Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

17026_413852478709121_1163712783_n.jpgClassic Neil Gaiman: the everyday blended with the bloody weird. The Ocean at the End of the Lane could be a fairy story, maybe even a children’s story, but the sinister overtones and the occasional adult theme might possibly tip things over into the adult category… maybe. It’s a very simple story, about a young boy living in Sussex as part of a fairly standard nuclear family. His life isn’t all that exciting: he’s a bookish outcast at school and his only real friend is Lettie, the supernatural being who is as old as the universe and happens to live on a farm close to his house…

In many ways it reminded me a lot of American Gods which I loved. It’s a near perfect example of magic realism: mixing the mundane with fantasy and doing it so well you can’t see the seams. The prose flows well and manages to appear staid and poetic at the same time. There are some classic lines that had me thinking, ‘Oooh, wish I’d written that,’ or ‘Oooh, I have no idea what that means, but I still wish I’d written that.’

The last paragraph before the epilogue is breathtaking; if you like poetic prose then you’re in for a bit of a treat.

If I was to make one small criticism then I would say that the pace was a little bit slow, even for what is actually a very short book. I think there was a little too much detail in places and that tended to drag things out a bit. I know these things are important for setting the tone and the sense of place, but I think I would have probably got that just through listening to the narrator. Anyway, a minor quibble, and since I seem to be saying it about a lot of books these days then I have to wonder if it’s me…

The story itself is nothing new, but it is expertly told, and for that reason I’m giving it seven out ten.

 

 

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