Monday, June 17, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publication date: June 18, 2013 by William Morrow Books
Source: book provided by publisher for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My Take:
I think the theme for reviews of this book will be "When it arrived, I dropped everything else and read it straight through!" I know that's what I did.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a rather short, amazingly beautiful, magical, haunting, enchanting, thought provoking book. As with every Neil Gaiman book I've read, the people and ideas and events of the book stay in my head and I can't stop thinking about them.

This book made me nostalgic and contemplative. I loved the mythology of this world, which brought back many memories of other Gaiman books I've read - particularly American Gods and The Absolute Sandman #1-#5.

Reading it made me stop and think about childhood and memories and how they change over time. I thought about growing older and what that means or maybe I don't know what growing older means. I wonder if we as adults, feel any different than we did as children. Are we really any more secure or any more certain of ourselves? Or do we just pretend and get on with life? Did things happen the way we remember them or did we re-write our past? Although, while reading the book, I felt that being back at the Hempstock's home and near the ocean was what brought back the narrators's memories of his childhood - the ones that fade when he leaves. In this place there is magic and it allows him to re-examine his memories and work through them - again.

I do know that this story was as frightening and haunting as any other I have read but at the same time, it was comforting (the Hempstocks) and magical. As always when reading a work by Neil Gaiman, I was completely drawn into the story and it was real and I believed it completely.

I made the mistake of allowing my husband to read it immediately after I finished it, and now I have to wait for him to finish reading it before I can re-read it. One of the (many) things I love about reading a book by Neil Gaiman, is that every time I read it I get something new out of it. I can't possibly do the book justice in a review, and honestly, everyone should read it without any preconceived ideas. Just read it, be scared, be enchanted, be sad and nostalgic, believe.

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