Author: Neil Gaiman
When a death brings a man back to his childhood home, he finds himself drawn to the house of the girl who once lived down the lane from him. As he reminisces about the suicide that brought him into acquaintance with one Lettie Hemstock, other memories begin to resurface. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a story of a boy who stumbles upon a world where fanciful happenings are the norm and cunning monsters are real.
“And then I turned and I saw its face, and I heard something make a whimpering sound, like a dog that had been kicked, and I realized that the thing that was whimpering was me.”
From the young Lettie Hemstock who seems too old for her eleven-year-old self to the ancient Old Mrs. Hemstock with her peculiar anecdotes, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is filled with many delightful and mysterious characters. The transition from adult to child in the narrative of the protagonist is seamless and the I found myself deeply immersed in this fantastical and terrifying world.
Gaiman takes us on a journey about a child who when faced with strange events, does not rationalize it away. As children we have not yet been jaded enough to question the reality of two moons, we simply accept it. Adult will rationalize a peculiar situation away, a child understands its tangibility and moves forward from there, and perhaps this makes the child more sensible. And so while I read, the terror of the protagonist felt real at every turn and I would not have been surprised if I woke up choking on a coin.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane incorporates everything I’ve come to expect from a Neil Gaiman book: charm, eccentricity, and magic.