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Book Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is the latest adult (or young adult) novel by this prolific author. I am long time fan of Mr. Gaiman’s work and have been looking forward to read this book.

Book Review The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanA man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England. He finds himself on a farm that is down the road from where he lived. As the man sits by the pond, he starts remembering events of bygone years, a suicide, a stolen car and darkness unleashed.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a simple, yet sophisticated, supernatural novel. As always, Gaiman does a fantastic job writing a modern fairytale with all the terrors, delights and themes which are universal and accompany stories of old.

I enjoyed this book on several levels.

Much like many other classic books, this one is about children, but not for children. The world Mr. Gaiman creates is not nearly as complete or alluring as he did with the Sandman comic books or the American Gods novel – however the world is addictive and it’s difficult to put the book down.

This novel goes back to the theme of gods and supernatural beings living among us, speaking and interacting with us. Even though it’s not marketed this way, I felt that this is a heroic tale, not because the protagonist is brave, but because he isn’t yet he fights his fear on every page.

But this is not the best thing about this book.

Who are these magical beings, in this case the Lempstocks or their nemesis, the “fleas”, never gets resolved. There are clues in the book as to who these beings are, so maybe this book would need a closer reading the second time keeping in mind the question above. I did like the fact that these beings were “playing” at being human, and all that comes with it.

This is a short book, but it is very well written. I’m not a big fan of fantasy but I was delighted to read this book. Several epic battles take place between these page, the battle between innocence and myth, childhood and adulthood, real world and fantasy (although which world is real and which is fantasy is also challenged). The battle of growing up, when the world stops making sense, magic makes way for science and you do not know, nor do you accept, that maybe, just maybe, you’ll never understand everything.

But that is not the best thing about this book.

This is a good book, well written and tight – the novel should get 5 stars and be on everyone’s “must read” list just so they could study the structure, tone, delivery, drama and focus.

But that is not the best thing about this book.

The best thing about this book is that, after years of begging, my wife finally read a Neil Gaiman book and liked it a lot. We spent an evening discussing the book, something we haven’t done in a while and for that, Mr. Gaiman, I’m eternally thankful (at the time of this post, she is reading The Graveyard Book and I’m looking forward to another engaging evening).

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

 

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