Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman











Genre: Fantasy / Horror

Year Published: 2013

Number of Pages: 181 pages

Date Read:  11/24/2013

Publisher: William Morrow Books 

Trigger Warnings:  Child Abuse



Now, I have been reading Neil Gaiman’s works for many years now and I have been enjoying most of his works (my personal favorites being “Coraline,” the “Sandman” series, “Neverwhere,” and “The Graveyard Book”).  So, imagine my amazement and delight when I realized that Neil Gaiman had a new book coming out called “The Ocean at the End of the Lane!” And before I knew it, I immediately ran to the bookstore to buy this book and I started reading it right away!  I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this book!

The story starts off in Sussex, England, where a middle aged man goes back to his childhood home after attending a funeral.  It was there that the man starts to remember his childhood memories at his old home and also about meeting up with a strange and amazing little girl named Lettie Hempstock.  It turns out that Lettie Hempstock was the one who helped the boy get through the most frightening event that happened during his childhood, which was caused after a South African opal miner committed suicide in the boy’s father’s car that he stole.  This series of events will cause the boy to think about whether or not magic really exists in the world he lives in and also help him understand the true meaning of friendship.

Neil Gaiman has struck a nerve in my ever lasting book loving heart with his stellar storytelling in stories that deal with fantasy and horror elements!  I loved the way that Neil Gaiman wrote this story in a poetic way as it gives the story a more imaginative and beautiful tone and I actually felt myself experience the adventures along with the boy in the story.  One of my most favorite quotes in this book deals with the boy’s fascination with books as stated here:

“I was sad that nobody had come to my party, but happy that I had a Batman figure, and there was a birthday present waiting to be read, a boxed set of the Narnia books, which I took upstairs. I lay on the bed and lost myself in the stories.  I liked that.

Books were safer than other people anyway.”

This pretty much explains so much about the narrator’s timid nature as he enjoys reading books, but he was always afraid to make friends with the other kids.  But, probably my most favorite character in this story was none other than Lettie Hempstock, who was indeed a strange and unusual little girl who befriended the boy. I loved the way that Lettie Hempstock was willing to put her life on the line to save the boy from the disturbing occurrences that happens at his home, like meeting up with various monsters that seem to come from another world.  It really shows what a strong and loyal heroine Lettie really is and I loved the fact that she shows the boy the true meaning of friendship!  I loved the way that Neil Gaiman handled the mystery surrounding the “ocean” at the end of the lane, which actually looks like a pond from another person’s point of view as I keep wondering throughout the story about why Lettie was so obsessed with the “ocean” at the end of the lane. When I finally found out what the secret about the “ocean” really is, I was truly mesmerized and surprised at the reveal!

For anyone who does not like frightening moments in any novel, there were some genuinely frightening moments in this book, especially concerning the little boy who was only seven years old!

*SPOILER ALERT!*

Probably the moment that really scared me and even upset me in this book was the scene where the boy’s father nearly drowns the little boy in the bathtub after the boy was trying to warn his father about their new nanny, Ursula Monkton.  The reason for this is because the new nanny, who was actually a monster who was made out of old cloth, started controlling the father to the point that the father would hurt the little boy if he was disrespectful towards Ursula. This scene was quite unnerving because I easily get uncomfortable whenever the subject of child abuse rises up and even though I knew that the boy’s father was being controlled, it was still disturbing to see the boy nearly drown in the bathtub by his own father.

*SPOILER OVER!*

Overall, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is truly one of the greatest fantasy novels I had ever read in this decade! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s works and love reading novels full of fantasy and horror!



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