Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Big Blue World: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! If you've got a fall post, make sure to add it to the Linky so I can check it out!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 181
Keywords: murder, magic, friendship
Format Read: library book
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.
If you're friends with me on Goodreads (if you're not, please be my friend!), you'll know I actually read this about a month ago. As I was planning out blogtober, I realized this would be a really good one to review for a creepy read. While not necessarily traditionally Halloween-y, this book was eerie and haunting and I really enjoyed the world it put me in.

This was actually my first Gaiman book, and after having read it, I heard from a friend that this is his least Gaiman-like novel of all his works. I didn't fall in love with the book, but it was beautiful, and Gaiman's world-building and magical prose is, I'm sure, why people fall in love with his writing style. That's what I fell in love with more than the specific book — the writing itself.

I felt like I was reading the book through a haze — nothing in the beginning really made sense. It was all kind of fuzzy, and I was squinting as hard as I could to see more of the puzzle because I was so intrigued and affected by everything that was going on. I had questions about the plot (and still do) but I don't seem to mind not completely knowing answers. It's better that things were left a little hazy. I feel like this is how the MC feels coming back and reliving his childhood memories. He's not totally sure what happened, but it's enough for him to remember it the way he does because that's what is real to him.

The characters were equally compelling and mystical, my favorite being Lettie's grandmother who only appeared periodically and chanted weird things and slept for hundreds of years at a time. She was weird and wonderful. Just like the rest of the characters in the book.

I really did like this book a lot. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but I was left feeling a little eerie and mystified at the world Gaiman created.

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