by Neil Gaiman
“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.”
Would it be enough if I told you to read it because it’s magical? No? Fine, let me try.
This was my second read by Gaiman, but after Stardust I expected a lot of magic and a lot of wonder, and it oozed both.
You know you’re reading a great book when it makes you want to write, when it makes you want to create something magical and fantastic, and this book had me feeling that way all the way through.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who returns to his childhood home, and suddenly remembers magical (apologies if I keep repeating myself – it’s not my fault this book is so damn magical, all right?) events that happened when he was a child. This book is his memory of those events – and the end just about broke something in me, and it’s still aching now.
It’s commonly accepted that magic only exists in movies and books, and then along comes Gaiman with books like this one and he makes you wonder if perhaps a little bit remains after all, and we just can’t see it. As writers many of us want to believe at least a little, but he makes it sound like the most natural thing in an extraordinary way, and I just love him for it.
There was one scene in particular which stood out for me and completely absorbed me, and that was when the main character entered Lettie’s ocean. The whole book was filled with magic, but this scene elevated things further for me.
The ending did something only very few books have achieved – it hurt me, I’m still hurting now several weeks after having finished it, and I love it all the more for it. I’m hurting for the MC, I’m hurting for myself and our desolate world, and it left me feeling empty.
If fantasy is your preferred genre – or even if it isn’t, if you’re up for a change – I can’t recommend this book enough.
Have you read The Ocean at the End of the Lane? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!
I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.
For all other book reviews, please take a look here.