Backlist Bonus: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

15783514by Neil Gaiman
5 of 5 stars

This was an impulse buy at an independent bookstore in Colorado last summer, and I fell in love with it from the first page. The narrator is in his forties looking back on a strange experience when he was seven years old, and the familiar wistfulness and contrasts between children and adults that Gaiman explores is at its peak. The English countryside is shrouded in fog that intertwines the real and magical events the unnamed narrator remembers (similar in style to Coraline and Neverwhere).

The narrator returns to his childhood home for a funeral, but he feels drawn to the tiny farmhouse at the end of the road. There, he once had a friend named Lettie, who said her pond was an Ocean. We find out his childhood was filled with strange, even violent experiences as his parents struggled to make ends meet. They finally decide to rent a room in their house to some strange and unsavory people. As a young boy, nobody wants or listens to his opinion about anything, not even his sister. Only Lettie tells him that he’s right, and helps him overcome the dangers to his family and himself. There’s a balance of adventure and philosophy as the narrator reflects on how growing older changes you.

If you’ve enjoyed Gaiman’s other work, you’ll love this, but I also feel it’s a good introduction if you haven’t read his novels before. The characters, themes, and language are in his trademark style, and you’ll have a good idea of whether he’ll become a personal favorite or not.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black – Hazel has to unravel some mysteries about her own identity before the fairies living outside her small town decide to claim her life for good. See my review here.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – This YA fantasy series set in a small Virginia town follows Blue and four Aglionby (a fancy prep school) boys as they try to find the hiding place of a Welsh king said to grant a wish. But the growing frequency of paranormal events starts making them question what else they might find on their quest. See my review here.
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley – A girl with an intriguing power crosses paths with a vampire who desperately needs her help to survive. Vampires aren’t normally my thing, but I loved this take on it and the characters are fascinating.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

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