Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Although technically this book is considered "Adult Fiction", as many of Neil Gaiman's books go, the reading audience is much wider than the over 18 crowd.  If you haven't read "Coraline" or even his picture book "Crazy Hair", run into the closest Children's section of a library as soon as you can!  What makes him so enviably gifted I think is that you always hear the authentic voice of NG in whatever he has written.  He doesn't change his language or alter his world view to accommodate young'uns, tweens, minors OR majors.  While he can be many things, he is always recognizably himself, a rare talent indeed.   In "The Ocean at the End of the Lane", Gaiman gives us a dark fantasy with all his usual elements--a bit of gore (there's this worm...),wry humor (the Hempstock women) , unexpected terror (near drowning by parents) and the built-in compulsion to read all night because you have no idea how it will end!
I usually prefer my own book summaries, but this one from the publisher Harper Collins is spot on:

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 duck pond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

How can you resist reading a book with a character (not necessarily a woman, or even a human) who remembers the Big Bang?!  As an added bonus, this title is available SIX different ways; although there are 19 holds on the 84 copies of the physical book, there are 9 available copies as an e-book, 6 in a large print format, and 1 as an audio book on CD.  Did I mention the audio is "written and performed by Neil Gaiman"? No?  Frosting on the cupcake then.  

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