"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."
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and whose work I'm still reading through and discovering. This particular book really resonated with me because Neil Gaiman writes a childhood voice that is effective and realistically done. That sense of memory and loss of memory touched me and I felt the passing of time throughout. The fact that it's also a book that is semi-autobiographical for its author also makes the book a beautifully realistic and magical read. No doubt that this literary work in the Speculative Fiction umbrella will stand well alongside the authors other masterworks. It's a short book as well, at just 181 pages in the Signed First Edition that I own. Yet, I felt the story was told in the amount of pages that it should be told.
"I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in one sitting. It is soaked in myth and memory and salt water and it is so, so lovely. It feels as if it was always there, somewhere in the story-stuff of the universe." - Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus
There are the fantastical elements in this book, but there's also a sense of growing horror, loneliness and how the love of books, ultimately, gives the narrator the strength to deal with the horrific and the every day throughout the story. The book is filled with so many wonderful bookish passages that are very quotable. It's a book that's better the less you know about it, too, so I will end here. I will add, though, that I would recommend it to readers of horror, fantasy and the books of Diana Wynne Jones.
"I do not miss childhood, but I 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 things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy."