Holiday Reading 3: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)

I’m kicking off 2014 with a short and hopefully sweet review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Yes, Gaiman for anyone who regularly peruses this blog. I hope you enjoy him as much as I do, if not, I apologise. Feel free to recommend different titles for my summer reading list!

Guys, I had so much fun reading this book. One of the reasons I love this author is that he writes your favourite childhood stories for a grown up audience. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is very dark but wonderfully familiar at the same time – like a twisted Enid Blyton.

The story begins as our adult narrator recalls an episode in his childhood when his parents decided to rent out his tiny bedroom to supplement their income. One day, a tenant steals the family car and kills himself on a lane by the house, unleashing a dark and force on their idyllic English village. The narrator’s only allies are the Hemstock family who live on a farm at the end of the lane, including 11-year-old Lettie, who has been 11 years old for a very, very long time.

For me, there was something very nostalgic about this story and I think that’s why I enjoyed it. Seeing as the last Gaiman I read was American Gods, I wasn’t expecting such a simple and almost ‘wholesome’ story – well as wholesome as his adult books get anyway. It’s a short and uncomplicated read about courage, adventure and apple pie. It reminded me of the books I loved as a little girl, although I don’t think any of the fathers in those stories tried to drown the protagonist in a bathtub. The Ocean at the End of the Lane may feel like a children’s story, but it would have seriously disturbed 8 year-old me.

I definitely think this book appeals to a particular kind of reader. The writing is lovely but the story is directed at big kids, like me. If you favour intricate fantasy novels and adult protagonists I’m not sure you would enjoy it. But to those of you still love a good old adventure on a Sunday afternoon – I absolutely recommend it.

“Someone’s just trying to give people money, that’s all. But it’s doing it very badly, and it’s stirring up things around here that should be asleep.”

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