I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s for many years by proxy. What I mean is, I first heard about him through Wil Wheaton’s blog (who I have adored since I was 12), then enjoyed reading Neil’s blog (she says as if they’re on a first name basis) for some years before I read one of his short stories in a collection he put together and contributed to (the collection is called Stories: All New Tales, for those interested). Then I just kept admiring Neil from afar until his writing in the Miracleman comics. So it’s a bit surprising, really, that it took me this long to read one of Neil’s novels. The Ocean at the End of the Lane sounded like a great story and had received excellent reviews, so I was looking forward to finally reading it.
The book begins with a man returning to his childhood home to attend a funeral. The return brings back memories of a neighbour, Lettie Hempstock, and what they went through together when he was seven years old. With these simple beginnings the reader is transported into a world of magic, darkness, hope, and imagination. We’re taken back to our childhoods.
I loved this book. I would have loved to have read it as a child. I’d love to read it to a whole bunch of people and have their worlds changed. I want everyone to read it and love it as much as I do. It would no doubt be just as good, if not better, with a re-read. Or, you could enjoy it the way I did – having Neil’s lovely voice reading it to me on my daily commute (i.e. an audiobook). If all of Neil’s novels are as wonderful as The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, I will end up having yet another literary crush. Amanda Palmer has done well.
I don’t want to say too much more as I am conscious of giving anything away, but I think what makes this so wonderful is the transportation to what, on the outset, could be like anybody’s childhood, until the scariness and darkness and magic sets in. Then you’re just happily along for the ride. A trip down the lane, if you like.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: 4.5 out of 5 stars!