I am a long-standing Neil Gaiman fan, and his novel “Ocean at the End of the Lane” is exactly the standard of story-telling I have come to love and expect from him. Neil Gaiman is a phenomenal crafter of modern fairy tales, and this book is no exception.
First of all, even though it is about a child, this is not a children’s book. If you are thinking of reading this to your kids, maybe read it first yourself and then reconsider. Similar in tone to his book “Coraline”, “Ocean at the End of the Lane” is much, much darker. It follows the story of a seven year old boy whose name I actually didn’t notice is never mentioned in the book. After the tenant who lives in his family home steals their car and kills himself, circumstances lead the protagonist to meet the mysterious family of three women from three generations who live in the house at the bottom of the lane.
I’m reluctant to write much more about the book because I don’t want to spoil it, but this is a book that lingers with you long after you have finished it. It is at times both frightening and disturbing, and extremely graphic. Also, after reading both this book and “Coraline”, I’m starting to wonder if Gaiman has a pathological fear of fabric.
This is a deeply personal book. Although not autobiographical in nature, Gaiman did acknowledge that elements of it were drawn from his own childhood home and experiences. It seems to focus on the idea of corruptibility and the trustworthiness of our memories.
I’m going to wrap this review up here, because the book really does speak for itself. If you want a modern fantasy book to make you think – read this one.
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