Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Friday 16 May 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman
Genre(s): Fantasy, Horror, Adult
Published: April 10th 2014
Pages: 235
Rating: 3 stars

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane, because I did, it's that I feel that the majority of it went straight over my head.

While I have no problem admitting that I love both fantasy and horror, and that I'm trying to branch out and read more adult fiction, I did have a problem getting my head round a lot of the events in this book. I feel that I am quite scientifically minded, in that I need things to have a definite answer and an explanation as to why things are why they are and what they are, and there was a distinct lack of these things in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I do like my fantasy to make sense, even if it would never be probable in the real world. This came off as very eccentric and even jumbled in places, which I found quite hard to follow.

That being said, I did enjoy the writing style. It was simple yet it read almost beautifully. It really lengthened the book and made it feel like a 300 or 400 page novel rather than a 200 and something page book. This was my first encounter with Neil Gaiman and I can say that, while this wasn't my favourite book - or perhaps the place to start when discovering a new author - I will pick up some more of his work. You have to hand it to him, he's created a masterpiece. A confusing, almost nonsensical one, but isn't that what the best and most thought provoking art is?

Overall, a nice read that definitely did get me thinking. Maybe a re-read in the future will help me get my head round it.

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