The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
This was my first Neil Gaiman book and if you want to know how much I enjoyed it, I went into Waterstones the day after finishing it and bought another six Gaiman books. So yes, I enjoyed this book. It was a perfectly strange reading experience and it thoroughly entertained me.
It is about a man reflecting on his childhood and a strange event that happened to him that has been suppressed in his brain, until now. He rediscovers his past and takes us along on the journey with him. As he is an adult reflecting on his time there are often lines that talk of the loss of childhood innocence and say the things we are all thinking as we leave behind what it means to be a carefree infant. One of the characters comments ‘The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.’ I love this line, it sums up how I am sure most of us feel, I used to wonder how my mum knew what she was doing and now as I have grown older, I have realised no one really knows what they are doing.
The setting was so isolated, an English countryside cottage down a lane. The small neighbourhood feel just made you fall into the story and not think about anything else. The description was beautiful and made the world seem vast and somewhere to get lost. I wanted to experience the strange, magical garden that the Hempstock’s controlled. The creatures and villains were intriguing and made me wish for little illustrations!
Initially when the Hempstocks are discussing the dead man in the car and talking about what will happen, I was confused. I knew nothing about this book, I didn’t know the genre, so when they started making predictions I wasn’t sure if they were magic or just very strange. I really liked the family dynamic between these characters, it offered some light relief from the tense storyline. Speaking of, this book had me on the edge of my seat, it wove the mystery into to book perfectly and also had been desperate to know the conclusion.
Every little weird detail in this book helped to build up it’s imaginative and explorative nature and I loved it. I hope I like his other books this much!