“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.” (Source: Goodreads)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the first work I’ve read by Neil Gaiman – and I love it. This short novel tells the story of a young boy. He discovers a sort of magic in the world around him that blends in a delightfully haunting way. The real star of this book isn’t the boy though. It’s the Hempstocks.
This piece of fiction is a quick read and harbors elements of fantasy and horror in a world much like our own. The house at the end of the lane is a bit removed from the rest of society and, to a homegrown, country girl like myself, oozes a rural familiarity. This house, being the home of the Hempstocks, is the source of everything surreal in The Ocean at the End of the Lane and through the little boy and his friend Lettie, we see an entirely different side of things. A place where a child learns morals (such as lying, obeying, etc.) in the most horrifying ways.
I found The Ocean at the End of the Lane nearly impossible to put down – in fact, I only paused long enough to shower and take a brief nap. I refused to sleep until I had turned the last page. It’s nice to see several elements of fiction in play, especially with how Gaiman foreshadows and references certain odd incidents that take place in his story. My next Gaiman read will be American Gods, which I received as a gift from Dad.