Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - Review

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Oxfam challenge prompt for May was "fantasy". Now, I'll admit I don't read a lot of fantasy. I'm just much more of a kitchen sink kind of person. I was a bit unsure as to what to read for this prompt, but then I remembered I'd bought The Ocean at the End of the Lane when it was like 99p on Amazon. It is fantasy but it's not high fantasy like Lord of the Rings - instead, the world is very recognisable as the one we live in, but with some magical elements. 

So, the unnamed narrator returns to where he grew up for a family funeral, although it's never clear who's. He leaves the wake and travels to where he used to live. The exact house no longer exists; his parents sold the land and lived on a smaller part of it, I think. Then the man drives further down, down to the farm where the Hempstocks lived. Forty years ago, when he was a small boy, the man met Lettie Hempstock, who was a few years older than him, and her mother and grandmother. Arriving now, he meets a woman who looks exactly like the grandmother, but it can't possibly be here, can it? Wouldn't she be dead by now? The woman gives him food and the man starts to remember things from so long ago. 

There was a pond behind the Hempstock farm that Lettie claimed contained the whole ocean. In the boy's house, a lodger arrives. He is an opal miner. He steals the family's car and takes his own life in the back of it, by the Hempstock farm. This lets something supernatural free into the area, and the boy wakes up choking on a coin. Lettie is told by her capable mother and grandmother to go and tell the monster to go away. She takes the boy with him, telling him to keep hold of her hand. However, something throws a thing at the boy, and he catches it. With that, something gets inside him. He later notices a small hole on the sole of his foot and pulls something free. But that's not the end of it either. 

The boy's parents hire a new nanny, Ursula Monkton. She immediately antagonises the boy, and vice versa. He ends up having to escape from her, to the Hempstock farm, and has to help Lettie fight the monster. The man says he hasn't been back to the farm in forty years, but Lettie's grandma says that's not true. It's just that he has forgotten what really happened.

I really liked the book. It's odd and quirky and has a big pinch of humour in it. I liked the boy and Lettie and her mother and grandma, definitely. I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman solely - I've read Good Omens by him and Terry Pratchett, which I loved (I also loved the TV show and am looking forward to series two!). On the basis of this book I would definitely read something else by him, though. I am giving this five out of five. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blogger news


Most Read