Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I’d never read any Neil Gaiman before, apart from the book he co-authored with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens. However, he’s popular among people I’m friends with, among people who’s taste in books I trust, among people who read what I read. So when I was browsing the Kindle store and saw that The Ocean at the End of the Lane was on sale I thought I’d give it a shot.

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I wasn’t disappointed. I knew nothing of what to expect from it and it turned out to be a bit of a treat. My poor boyfriend has had to hear me enthuse (carefully, without spoilers) about it more than once.

Part of the reason I like it so much is because I love fairy tales. I love myths and legends and folktales and little local stories that you only ever hear if you go to the right place and talk to the right people. I love the stories that people make up for themselves to explain things they don’t understand yet.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, there’s no pretence of the possibility that at some point an ordinary person would understand what was really going on. It acknowledges that grown-ups can’t really live their lives believing in fairy tales but suggests that that doesn’t mean that those fairy tales can’t still be true.

I found it intriguing, tense and heartbreaking, although not in the bleak, endless, inevitable heartbreaking sense that a lot of my favourite novels manage. Perhaps bittersweet is a better word to describe it. It’s definitely made me want to read more Gaiman. It’s also made me want to give a copy to all my friends so I can nag them to read it and then we can talk about it without the risk of spoilers.

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