The Ocean at the End of the Lane
June 1, 2013
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.
One-sentence review: A marvelous work of fiction that lets you see the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old and reminds you that things are not always as they seem.
Background: I’ve just heard good things about this book, so I thought I’d check it out from the library. Neil Gaiman is new to me, though I’m familiar with the stories of Coraline and Stardust, and I was really excited to read this.
The bad: It’s a little dark, but I wouldn’t call it bad, necessarily.
The good: It’s just a great work of fiction. Gaiman writes in such a way that I totally believe everything in the story. Other realms? Sure. Magical neighbors? Why not.
Bottom line: I loved this book, even with its dark undertones, and I’m excited to read more books by Gaiman. He’s a new favorite. I recommend this to anyone who wants to read a fantastic work of fiction and who wants to get lost in another reality for a short time. I can’t recommend this book enough!