By Neil Gaiman
First published: January 2013
Read: 18-21 June 2014
Book online: Goodreads | Amazon
Author online: Website | Twitter | Facebook
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark. (Goodreads)
I adore Neil Gaiman. In addition to being a very inspirational and witty man, his stories are pure magic, and even the ones I don't care too much for (like American Gods) are so imaginative and compelling that I can't help but admire them. I'm not sure what I expected from The Ocean..., but whatever it was, the book was nothing like it, in the best way possible.
It's very hard to describe what it's about - on the most basic level it's about a grown man reminiscing about certain events from his childhood - but that summary doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. There is magic, evil, friendship, monsters, and cats; and it raises the question, are any of our memories truly real? In the end I think it might be better to read it knowing as little as possible and just go where the story takes you.
Gaiman's writing is, as always, flawless. It's so lyrical and beautiful, and it almost has a rhythm to it; it washes over you in waves and it's like you're floating along on the words. It probably sounds weird, but it's hard to explain. His writing just moves me.
So, is this my favourite Neil Gaiman book? Not at all. Is it in any way exceptional? By no means. But it is a story that will stay with me, because I was a child once too.
Bottom line: A beautiful, haunting and touching story about childhood memories and ... Oh, nevermind, it's Neil Gaiman. Read it.