A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral. When he visits the Hempstocks’ farmhouse at the end of the lane and sits at the pond, the smudged memories of his childhood become clear and he knows that the pond is, in fact, an ocean; and he remembers Lettie Hempstock, the girl who promised to protect him to the very end. Memories of dark creatures and immortal women buried in his mind for forty years surface. The narrator recollects the nightmarish events that followed when a man committed suicide in his father’s car. We see a scary, strange world on the brink of reality through the eyes of a helpless little boy.
This wasn’t like American Gods, which in all honesty, isn’t my favourite book by Gaiman. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is like Coraline; simple, haunting, eerily charming, something which lingers on your mind long after you’re done with it. It’s about childhood, the horrors of growing up. The writing is vivid, like The Graveyard Book; but this is not a book for children, it’s mature and bitingly honest. And despite the absurd and the dark, it is still somehow happy. And brilliant.
“I do not miss childhood, but I do miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from the things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”
Is that enough of a review? Because the fact is, I haven’t been able to come up with much else in the entire week that this post has been sitting in my drafts, collecting virtual dust. What else could I say? It’s a tiny story with an immense scope. Read it.