Publishing Date: June 18th, 2013
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Sci-Fi, Paranormal
Pages: 181 pgs
Source: Won at the Ontario Blog Squad Event
Summary from Goodreads:
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 Lane is 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.
Well I have to admit to something. As a book nerd, I have only ever read one other Neil Gaiman book and that book was Coraline. Gaiman is a legend in writing circles and I was a little red faced to say that I hadn't really read any of this novels. That being said, last weekend at the Ontario blogger meetup I was lucky enough to win a signed ARC of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I mean a signed copy! What luck! As soon as I finished my current read, I dove head first into this story. It is a magical work involving alternate worlds, monsters and enchanted kittens. I really enjoyed this story and since it is so short I pretty much read it in a day. The characters are so enticing and you can't help but fall in love with them. I especially loved Lettie Hempstock. She is a precocious, wise beyond her years, 11 year old who takes the narrator on a journey that is beyond his imagination. Her mother and grandmother are also a part of the story but it seems that the two are often interchangeable. In fact, Lettie seems to fall into this interchangeable category as well. Since magic is at play and the book was full of metaphor, I had to wonder if all three were really the same person but from different eras or times of their lives. The three hold a tremendous amount of power in the novel and come to be the saviours for the young protagonist.
The book is cleverly written and the idea of memory is often brought up. How accurate are our memories and how do they shift and change over time? It is fascinating to think that what we remember of one event may not be how someone else remembers. It is also interesting to think that our perception of what occurred may change as we age. This story explores that through the lens of magic.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the fact that at times it was slightly confusing. Different situations would pop up that were out of the norm and as a reader I was expected to piece together what was going on. I think that with a little bit more explanation/background information that the story would have been bang on. While it was quirky, it was unique and I would definitely recommend this to others. Great work Gaiman! I will have to pick up your other novels now to add to my ever growing TBR pile.