The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the LaneAfter my disappointment with Touch of Frost, I looked through my giant work-based TBR pile to find something that I knew I was going to like. This tiny book tried to hide from me, but I grabbed it and dove in.

And loved it quite a bit. It is, as always, not quite like any other Gaiman book, but it is beautifully written and I enjoyed the reading experience as much as the story.

But the story is great, too. The main story (told as the remembrances of the protagonist grown up) is about a seven-year-old boy who finds himself involved in a strange and magical fight between a kind but slightly strange girl who live at the end of the lane and a demon-ish creature who comes to the boy’s world with the intention to be loved but a terrible sense of how to achieve that.

It could be a sweet fantasy story, but instead it is quite terrifying. There’s the obvious terror, like when our protagonist wakes up with a coin lodged in his throat or finds a worm hiding in his foot and removes it on his own or finds out that his parents are not as infallible as he might have hoped. But there’s also the stealthy terror of losing a parent’s trust or questioning your sanity, and they are equally as bad. This story may feature a child, but it is not a story to read to your children. I am not sure it is a story to read to adults. I am still a little creeped out.

There’s not much else I can say about this story — for me it is so much about the world and the atmosphere and the feelings that Gaiman creates that you should really just read it and experience it yourself and then come discuss feelings with me. That’s a totally normal thing to do.

Recommendation: For those who like creepy and sometimes a little bit gross and also terrifying, and those who want to be thankful for their uneventful childhoods.

Rating: 9/10

an RIP read

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