Monday, 22 July 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - 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.

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.


I love Neil Gaiman. He's a great man that writes interesting stories that touch hearts, make you laugh and press buttons. Ocean at the End of the Lane is not as intense as some of Gaiman's other works but its mythic qualities set it apart.

Told in retrospective, the mind of a middle aged man remembering his seven year old self, the story becomes a fable quickly in both plot and style. Emotions run high as they would for a child but the world is quick, unfathomable and immediate, ever changeable. Some moments are truly scary, such as a certain scene between the narrator and his father, while others let you remember the innocence of childhood. 

Lettie Hempstock is great character, full of wit and unplumbed depths, both protecting from and luring our narrator to a mysterious evil that can be found in the most  common of places. Her voice is new and echoes her gran's, Old Mrs. Hempstock, who speaks in a delightful rural accent while summoning great powers to herself. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a modern fairytale, telling a tale of survival while handing out a warning about memory. It lulls you in and doesn't let you back out until you've finished the narrow volume. At less than two hundred pages, the book goes by in a flash but remains in your mind and your memory, as all good tales do.

No comments:

Post a Comment