Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
I don’t know why I should be so surprised that Neil Gaiman would write something that I love so much. I think that the Graveyard book is up there in my top ten and American Gods should probably be required reading for high school. At some point in the lead up to this books release back in 2013 I became convinced that this was literary fiction, and my own prejudice of heavy character bound stories kept me away.
Of course The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a powerful character driven story, but its nicely fixed between Gaiman’s usual mastery of the supernatural and macabre. He tries to fool you in the beginning. Opening the book with a story of an older man revisiting his childhood home and remembering old friends long lost to growing up and moving away. It’s something I think most of us do. Drive by the home you grew up in and look through faded windows for signs of the kid that you used to be. Look down on the neighborhood you played in from the heights of Google maps.
It’s after that hook of normality that Gaiman spreads the world thin and shows you what’s maybe lurking between the foggy gaps of childhood memory and the wonders we all leave behind when we grow up. Looking back into those new memories the main character remembers all the things that children know all too well. That adults are scary. That even your parents can forget you and the effects that their words can have on you. That the best people to help you are always going to be your friend down the road.
With Gaiman it’s never quite as simple as that. With Gaiman, the adults maybe aren’t quite as human as you thought, and your friend down the road comes from a family that’s been around longer then the species you belong to. Gaiman couches all of this with the visions of things you can’t see and powers that exist outside of the human perspective, all the while expertly examining what it means to be a kid growing up in all too real world of fear in the shadow of adults.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantastic book in the library of excellent work from Neil Gaiman. Four stars out of Five.