A now grown-up returns to his childhood home during a funeral. He only really means to look at his parents’ long-sold home and the area that used to be all theirs, but he winds up at the door of the house at the end of the lane. It is while there, the man begins to remember some strange happenings of one year during his childhood.
I make no secret that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, especially when it comes to modern fantasy. He not only has one of the most incredible imaginations, he also churns out some of the most innovative, grounded fantasy works I have ever read. Gaiman has a talent for making the unbelievable seem almost commonplace, and he does not fail do to the remarkable in The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
We never learn our main character’s name – something I would complain about with another author but a fact I did not even notice until writing this review – and we never learn who’s funeral he is attending, but those facts almost do not matter. Instead, we are enraptured by the young boy with few friends that are not found in books, and our hearts break when he mentions that no one showed up at his seventh birthday party. When our protagonist meets Lettie Hempstock, we are just as enthralled as he is with the spunky eleven year old girl who seems wise beyond her years.
And that is because she is. Gaiman gives us a family of immortal women – grandmother, mother, and daughter – who hold some kind of power over the natural world around them. Lettie’s mother and grandmother are just as intriguing as our new young friend, and even with their little involvement the reader is left wanting more of their story. Gaiman crafts rich, interesting characters that live on the edge of reality and yet never seem unreal themselves.
I loved the simple discovery of this plot so much that i don’t want to give much away, but it flows so effortlessly from his memory that you almost forget that it is all in flashback. Gaiman alludes to powers that are gotten by way of thought and belief again (something seen in many of his fantastical works), but even a trope he’s used before feels natural and new.
I listened to this on audiobook, and to my delight it was Gaiman that narrated it. He is a great reader and really manages to bring his words to life. The book is short – less than 6 hours on audiobook – and was too addicting to not finish in just a couple of days. Of course, now I am left wanting another Gaiman book to listen to on my commute . . . .
Audipbook Rating: 9/10