Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman + Make it a Gift

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Review by Lauren

copy was a gift, but all opinions are still my own

Official Summary: 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 touch paper 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.

Review: This is the first Neil Gaiman novel that I've read. I've experienced this author through a couple of his graphic novels, but I'd been wanting to read something a bit more complete from him and I was finally able to do so when a friend of mine gave me this book for my graduation. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a strange little book and it's a bit difficult to talk about when trying to avoid spoilers.

I'd suggest that if you read this book, you go in without much knowledge concerning the actual plot. Forget that and just remember that the book is magical and fascinating, and a little bit horrifying if you place yourself in a child's shoes. As this is an adult novel, I wouldn't say it's terribly scary, but it certainly contains some spooky beings (I won't say human) that are interesting in their originality.

The story is fascinating as it's narrated by an older version of a seven year old. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the voice speaking isn't a seven year old, only the actions presented. At the same time, there were a few things the narrator actually says when he's seven that seem beyond his age. Personally, I can chalk that up to its fairy tale nature. Everyone seems older, able to understand the world a bit more because of the terrible beings they come across.

For someone who hasn't read anything by Gaiman, I do think I started at a good place. It might put some people it's very much an adult fairy-tale in my mind, though populated with child-like nightmares. However, I enjoyed that it was a shorter book and I could take it all in and prepare myself for another novel by Gaiman. Despite it's shorter page-length, The Ocean at the End of the Lane felt quite full.

I will certainly be back for more from him. The same friend that give me this book gifted me with two books full of short stories by Gaiman (she's a big fan) so I'll definitely be checking those out as well.

Make it a Gift

At the heart of this novel is a middle-aged man who suddenly remembers a most extraordinary time in his childhood, and the people that made up the backdrop. In honor of that, I think if you were to gift someone this should also add a Time Capsule, so they can preserve their own memories for future recollection.

The above time capsule comes from Our Sweet Home Alabama on etsy. It's described as a memory box for a child, but I think anyone could use it. It comes with a lock and key, which is even better for a capsule, since it's not something you can just flip up and look in. I think this would be a great box to collect letters, photos, and little mementos from a time in your life that you will then open up years later to enjoy: births, weddings, a childhood summer, a year in your life at school, etc.

Visit the etsy shop to find more memory boxes and other fun items!

If you want to find other time capsules (with a specific theme, etc.) then simply search "time capsule" in the etsy search engine! There are many other ideas.


Erika said...

I so want to check this book out - LOVE Neil Gaiman's work!! :)

Brandi Kosiner said...

I haven't read Gaiman before, but the fascinating story appeals to me

Liviania said...

I never thought about buying a time capsule on Etsy.

Synchronized Reading said...

I've never read anything by the author, but this cover has me intrigued. I would definitely consider giving it a try :)

Janina @ Synchronized Reading

Andrea @The Bookish Babes said...

Oooh! I don't know if this book is for me, but I absolutely adore the box! Fabulous job!

Jasprit said...

I've only read one book by Gaiman previously, but like you mentioned I have heard such great things about his work, that I really need to get around to picking up more of his books soon. Also can I just say the cover to this book is stunning! Great review!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I still need to read this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Also like the pairing of the time capsule with it.

bermudaonion said...

I've read 2 of his books - I loved one and not the other. I think I'm going to wait for the buzz to die down on this one.

Candace said...

The local Indie has been talking this up, always trying to get me to pick up a copy. I have only read one book by him and it didn't really work for me but I know better than to judge an author by one book. And it was only personal taste that was the issue. Anyway, this sounds pretty good. And I love the treasure box. My daughter is really into them and it's a good idea for her Christmas present.

Melanie said...

I'm glad that your first Gaiman book went nicely. I have read Coraline by him which was pretty good and a little creepy. I am thinking of reading Stardust- which is less horror soon.

Fabulous review, Lauren! <33

Tanja - Tanychy said...

Gaiman is one of the authors whose books I have seen around and tried to read but simply I couldn't fully enjoy his style. I've got some idea that it comes with years so I promised myself to try in let's say 10 years again. We'll see. I'm glad you enjoyed this one and I hope you'll enjoy his next books even more. Great review :)

Alise (Readers In Wonderland) said...

You are really selling me on this one, I love the sound of bit being a bit creepy. That cover is gorgeous, too. It's great when a shorter book that still can tell such a great story!

Smart Ass Sara said...

Totally adding this to my list!