Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: June 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.

Let me start by saying that I think to properly experience The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you should listen to the audio version.  It is narrated by the author himself and he does a fantastic job of pulling you into the magic of the tale.  

That being said, I wanted something more out of the story.  Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it.  It would make a cool movie.  At the surface, the story is about a man who returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral.  While he is there, he visits the home of his childhood friend, Lettie.  He begins to remember the summer that changed his life. It's a fantastical tale told through the eyes of an avid reader. Witches, black magic, and spells make such  an unbelievable story that you have to wonder if it was all a child's dream. 

I was left with questions in the end.  Was it real or fantasy?  But, isn't that the funny thing about childhood memories as seen through the eyes of an adult?  How much of what we remember happened that way it actually did?  The book is really short so it can be read or listened to in a couple of hours.  I think fans of Mr. Gaiman will enjoy this one.  My favorite is still Neverwhere, but this one would be in my top 5 of his.

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