Author: Neil Gaiman
Source: William Marrow
Goodreads Rating: 4.19 stars
My Rating: 4 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
I’ve long been a fan of Gaiman’s work and while a bit shorter than other adult novels by him, this book pulled me into its odd world and had me devouring the story. A couple months before reading this, I saw him at BEA and listened to him talk about how this book came about due to real events that happened in his childhood. I won’t say what as I hate spoilers, but you do find out pretty quick in the story what happens.
It’s a great mix of real life and fantasy and the emotional roller coaster a child goes through when their family has struggles and people don’t take them, or their fears, seriously. It’s about friendship,loyalty, overcoming fears and coming back to your roots.
While the story is told from the POV of a 7 year old boy, it’s his adult counterpart’s flashback we read and it’s very believable that it’s the voice of a child. The prose is beautiful and emotionally gripping, as is typical with his writing.
An all around great story wrapped in a beautiful cover.