Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: June 18th 2013 by William Morrow Books
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’ve heard amazing things about Neil Gaiman and I really wanted to read something by him, so when the NovelTea Book Club chose The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Kristin reassured me it was the good book to be introduced to this author, I started reading it.
I knew the author writes creepy stories, but I wasn’t prepared for, well, this. It’s probably one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read and I can’t explain to myself how I managed to finish it so soon. On one side, I really wanted to abandon it, because it was too surreal and too creepy for my tastes, while, on the other side, I desperately wanted to know how it would end. Despite all, it was a smooth reading, even if it wasn’t in my mother tongue, and I really enjoyed Gaiman’s writing style.
The story is told in first person by a man who was only 7 years old at the time of the events, but this is definitely a book for adults. One of the things that impressed me was the absence of a line mentioning the name of the main character, the narrator, and I realized it just at the end of the book! I really enjoyed how the author described the life in the countryside, the Hempstocks’ house with that cozy kitchen and yummy country food, it reminded me of my childhood at the farm of my mom’s aunt. I also loved the way Gaiman described the various cats in this story, you can easily tell that he knows and appreciate animals. The attachment of the narrator to his kittens (for the first one I still have tears in my eyes!!) is simply adorable!
I liked many things of this book, but some parts were so absurd and creepy that I didn’t feel myself comfortable reading them. Half way through the book I was so disappointed by the story that I promised myself to not read something by Neil Gaiman again, but now I realize that I really enjoy his writing style and I might appreciate his other books, since I really liked the movie based on Stardust!