Back in the 90s I had this friend who was a huge comic book geek who persuaded me to read this series called The Sandman written by some guy called Neil Gaiman. At first I resisted (a comic book? I was in my 30s, not prime demo for comics and anyway…) but eventually I wore down under the pressure of his repeated proselytization. Turns out my friend was right, this wasn’t guys in tights swinging from high rise to high rise or floating in the air touting clever jibes and blasting each other with laser beams. This was something uncomfortably close to art. The expressionistic paintings of Dave McKean were like nothing you’d expect in a pulpy comic and the stories? Just amazing, evocative, lyric, er um dream like(?). I was hooked and still am. I came across a book called Neverwhere not long after and will never look at subways, London, London subways, or quite really anything in the same way again. And the books kept coming: Good Omens (w/ Terry Pratchett), Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book amongst them and I kept reading, gladly.
You see Gaiman has this voice, charming and humane but creepy, occasionally whimsical but capable also of evoking real dread; and when he gets dark all the effects amplify because you have been charmed and cozened.
That voice is central to his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The set-up is fairly straightforward; the narrator returns home to rural Sussex after several decades away. There to eulogize at a funeral he finds himself with a bit a free time so he drives around his old neighborhood. He comes upon a somehow familiar farmhouse. And there he begins to remember. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book filled with strangeness and charm; its sole flaw by my lights is that it is over far too soon.
— Matt, Los Angeles
A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.
This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...
“Remarkable . . . wrenchingly, gorgeously elegiac. . . . [I]n The Ocean at the End of the Lane, [Gaiman] summons up childhood magic and adventure while acknowledging their irrevocable loss, and he stitches the elegiac contradictions together so tightly that you won’t see the seams.”
“Gaiman has crafted an achingly beautiful memoir of an imagination and a spellbinding story that sets three women at the center of everything. . . .[I]t’s a meditation on memory and mortality, a creative reflection on how the defining moments of childhood can inhabit the worlds we imagine.”
“His prose is simple but poetic, his world strange but utterly believable—if he was South American we would call this magic realism rather than fantasy.”
“[W]orthy of a sleepless night . . . a fairy tale for adults that explores both innocence lost and the enthusiasm for seeing what’s past one’s proverbial fence . . . Gaiman is a master of creating worlds just a step to the left of our own.”
“Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it’s a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay.”
“[A] compelling tale for all ages . . . entirely absorbing and wholly moving.”
“[A] story concerning the bewildering gulf between the innocent and the authoritative, the powerless and the powerful, the child and the adult. . . . Ocean is a novel to approach without caution; the author is clearly operating at the height of his career.”
“Ocean has that nearly invisible prose that keeps the focus firmly on the storytelling, and not on the writing. . . . This simple exterior hides something much more interesting; in the same way that what looks like a pond can really be an ocean.”
“This slim novel, gorgeously written, keeps its talons in you long after you’ve finished.”
“In Gaiman’s latest romp through otherworldly adventure, a young boy discovers a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. Soon his innocence is tested by ancient, magical forces, and he learns the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating read, equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky.”
“’The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is fun to read, filled with his trademarked blend of sinister whimsy. Gaiman’s writing is like dangerous candy—you’re certain there’s ground glass somewhere, but it just tastes so good!”
“The impotence of childhood is often the first thing sentimental adults forget about it; Gaiman is able to resurrect, with brutal immediacy, the abject misery of being unable to control one’s own life.”
“[W]ry and freaky and finally sad. . . . This is how Gaiman works his charms. . . . He crafts his stories with one eye on the old world, on Irish folktales and Robin Hood and Camelot, and the other on particle physics and dark matter.”
“When I finally closed the last page of this slim volume it was with the realization that I’d just finished one of those uncommon perfect books that come along all too rarely in a reader’s life.”