The Ocean at the End of the Lane
I have been a Neil Gaiman fan since reading my first Sandman graphic novel many years ago, his book American Gods is the only reason I ever went to House on the Rock and he writes Dr. Who episodes – so enough said, I’m an fan boy. His latest work certainly doesn’t hurt his legacy. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short book, if you get sucked in like I did you can knock it out in a night. It is written for adults but would likely be okay for teens, though there is one scene in the story that is not for kids but even that is not too graphic.
The story follows a seven year old boy, or more accurately a middle-aged man looking back on his seven year self. Through the boy’s eyes we see his world(s) coming apart, both the world we all know (his family is dealing if financial issues that cause turmoil on a number of levels) and the magical world he has just learned of, yet might mean his doom. In the course of the story he meets Lettie Hempstock who becomes his friend, protector and guide in this new mysterious world where trouble is brewing.
I love the world Neil Gaiman has created, a world that is consistent in its depths across all of his stories. You recognize the world we all know, but there is always a shadow world laying just underneath, filled with supernatural people and beings, doing shadowy things. His world seems utterly plausible because of his characters and the settings; reality never manages to push its way in and ruin the fun. It’s almost a shame to finish the book and realize that his magical world, where anything can happen never existed.
I would highly recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it’s a good story and a great way to ease into his work. If you find you like it I would check out American God’s, Coraline and Graveyard Book.
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