April 21, 2014
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
2013 Harper Audio
Reader: Neil Gaiman
Finished on 2/16/14
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
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.
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...
Move over, Jim Dale; I think I’m in love. Neil Gaiman has such a rich, smooth voice; I would happily listen to him read a Subaru service manual. What a fabulous performance (because, quite honestly that’s really what this experience felt like; not simply an author reading his book, but one who is telling you his story). I enjoyed it so much that I found myself listening to a track a second time, and I even considered listening to the entire book once again. I’ve only experienced one other book by Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) and now I’m eager to sample more from his backlist, especially if the audio books are narrated by the author.
In a word, enchanting. This slim novel (a fairy tale for adults, really) is worth your time. Read it. Listen to it. Just don’t miss it!