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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

August 14, 2013

ocean end laneThe Ocean at the End of the L:ane by Neil Gaiman. Pub. Headline, 2013.

I never thought I would get a chance to read this novel because I had read reviews of it in adult publications and they seemed to firmly catagorize it as an adult book. I have always regarded Neil Gaiman’s writing as that of a big kid and I mean that in the sincerest sort of way.

I had read that Ocean was a deep dark and disturbing view of his own childhood and remarkably I didn’t find it so. The adult looking back at his life at aged 7 from his forties would naturally interpret events in a different way than the lonely, bullied seven year old boy with a girl friend who was 4 years older than him.

The adult sees the darkness of the older girls fantasy as she played with the younger and impressionable boy. Kids do this for heavens sake. Older kids always try to scare the living daylights out of younger kids. They have the power because they are older. So it is with the relationship of the boy with Lettie Hempstock and the rest of her family.

Remember too that the area of Sussex where the novel is set with the pond or ocean at the end of the lane is deeply steeped in witchery, black magic and old wives tales. And a boy seeing the body of the man who ran over his cat is a disturbing event. After that the world is the boy’s dark imagination.

Having said all that I did sit down in two sessions and read the book from cover to cover. I love Gaiman’s narrative technique. I think David Almond does it better in Monster Billy Dean and Patrick Ness in a Monster Calls but I suspect both would say that Gaiman does. I just think we should be happy that such quality literature is available in a world of mediocrity dominated by Cooking shows and poor souls warbling and dancing on TV talent spotting shows.

This is a quality novel for older mature children and young adults who can put a bit of perspective into what is happening.

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