Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Genre: Magical Realism
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.
My love for Neil Gaiman ran deep before I read this book, but after, it runs even deeper. Gaiman’s writing and storytelling was fabulous as always, but I found The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be even darker, more whimsical, and more vivid than his other novels.
I was amazed at his ability to complexify each of his characters, especially the children, and his ability to get me to sympathize even with the pink and gray worm the narrator pulls from his foot. Gaiman is a master at making even the smallest person seem important, and though The Ocean at the End of the Lane is largely the story of a little boy, he manages to insert immense, powerful meaning into it.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is intensely magical and real at the same time, and I was completely sucked in by it, as I have been by all the other works by Gaiman that I’ve read. I ripped through it in less than a day, but though it is short, it’s definitely a book that will stay with you for a long time.
Gaiman’s most recent masterpiece is beautiful and heartbreaking, and despite A KITTEN DYING, I absolutely loved it.