Title: Ocean at the End of the Lane
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: June 18, 2013
Genre: Adult Literary
Source: Bought on Amazon
Buy the Book: Ocean at the End of the Lane
Synopsis: 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 Laneis 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. (Via Goodreads)
Brian: Shaunta has been raving about Neil Gaiman since the day I met her, so it’s been a lot of fun this last year trying out this author’s work in all the different genres he writes in. I read Coraline, which I loved; read The Graveyard Book, which was a haunting tale; and now there’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, his first book for adults in eight years. I would still put Coraline as my favorite, but Ocean at the End of the Lane is a whole different kind of fantasy novel, one that has moments of both beauty and wretched horror. It’s very short for a novel, at not even 200 pages, and while I really wanted to read the whole thing in one sitting, I was only able to read a few pages a night these last couple weeks. It was fun, getting to enter Gaiman’s weird, imaginative head every night before going to bed.
Shaunta: I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in two sittings. It’s got this hauntingly familiar, almost nostalgic tone to it that is so pleasing. I remember when I was a kid my mom had these huge half-barrels in the backyard planted with these gorgeous geranium bushes. They were like geranium jungles, and i would build little fairy houses in them–truly believing that little creatures lived in them when I wasn’t looking. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is all about that way that little kids have of absolute faith and belief. The absolute fear the main character felt, the awe, the joy–it all came through so clear.
Brian: Gaiman has been an inspiration to me lately because he’s one of the few authors I know who writes in various genres, for various audiences, and he does all so well; best of all, his readers flock to whatever he does. And while he’s so beloved by so many people, I love that his writing is so simple and easy to read. Even if you read his books in one sitting or just take a few short sips every night, it’s easy to get lost in his world. Ocean at the End of the Lane was an interesting read because at times it felt like I was reading a novel geared toward children, or maybe teenagers, with the way it’s written, and the way some of the events play out, but then there are the macabre scenes sprinkled throughout that take your breath away. I enjoyed Ursula a lot, the strange being that comes into the narrator’s life as a worm through his foot (!). That’s what I love about Gaiman; he’s not afraid to throw in crazy plot developments that somehow, miraculously, works. I enjoyed the character of Lettie, as well as the creepy scene of the discovery of the car. And the whole idea of the ocean, as that pond, will stick with me for a long time. I still have yet to read American Gods, his behemoth of a novel I have on my shelf, but I hope to start it soon. There’s lots more Gaiman I need to be reading!
Shaunta: Despite having a male protagonist, this book was all about the ladies. Ursula, Lettie, her mother, her grandmother–it was their story, told through the eyes of a little boy. It was fascinating to me that all of these incredible female characters went about their business, while the little boy forgot. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is just good storytelling. Neil Gaiman never fails on that front. It’s a small book–like a sip of something delicious–packed with an intense amount of story. the hardback might give you sticker shock, but look for it at your local library if you have to. You don’t want to miss this one.