Saturday 18 January 2014

Book Impressions - The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It's been a while since I last read any of Neil Gaiman's work and even though this isn't the best of his that I've read it's still a damn fine read. The story starts with a man who finds himself drawn to a pond at a farm. While he is there he starts to remember events from his childhood, terrible and magical events that his mind had buried in the past.

Neil Gaiman is a master story teller and that is evident here, the richness of the boy's experiences ensnare you and keep you dfascinated until the end, in fact I read this from cover to cover in a single sitting (ok so I was having a tattoo done, but even so I wanted to keep reading, it's just not often that I get the opportunity to do so!).

The tale has a classic fairy tale feel to it, not just in the subject matter, but also in the way it unfolds. Gaimen's strength is his ability to weave the extraordinary into the ordinary and he does so here. The scope of the story isn't up with say American Gods, but it is more personal and does provide a glimpse of the wider context.

As always he writes well, with a fluid, economical style and to be honest I don't have any issues with the book, it's just that compared to his other stories it didn't grab me as much, but it was still well worth a read.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane is available from Amazon (and is a decent read)

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