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‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ book review: Couldn’t put it down

‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ book review: Couldn’t put it down
Neil Gaiman is the bestselling author of books, graphic novels, short stories, and film and television for all ages. His notable works include ‘American God’, ‘Neverwhere’, ‘Coraline’, ‘The Graveyard Book’, and ‘Norse Mythology’ among many others. He wrote the script for ‘Doctor Who’. Many people know him for the famous ‘Sandman’ series.  George R.R. Martin, the author of the wildly popular ‘Game of Thrones’ series once said, “There’s no one quite like Neil Gaiman.” I had only read a few of his works and while I had liked them, I hadn’t been crazy about any one in particular. A BookTuber I follow, Christy Anne Jones, raves about Gaiman’s book in almost every other video she makes. She mostly mentions The Graveyard Book, Norse Mythology, and ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. I hadn’t come across these books in bookstores around town but I did get ‘Neverwhere’ and it was okay. I found ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ at the recently opened bookstore, Bookverse, in Civil Mall in Kathmandu. It had the exact same cover Christy used to show in her videos. The copy also felt nice in my hand. It felt like the book and I had gotten off to a good start. And indeed, I loved it. The story is simple, the characters are so lovable, and the plot keeps you hooked.

The story follows an unnamed man who goes back to his hometown to attend a funeral and recalls events that happened 40 years ago. He remembers a girl named Lettie Hempstock who had claimed the pond behind her house was an ocean. He stops by the house where the Hempstocks lived and meets a member of the family. In doing so, he starts to recall things he had long forgotten.

The theme of the novel is basically our search for identity and the disconnect between childhood and adulthood. It starts off with a man reminiscing about his childhood and evolves into magical realism. The illustrations by Melbourne-based Elise Hurst who specializes in children’s books make the story come to life. They are a bit dark and surreal but the book wouldn’t have been as captivating as it is without them. There’s not much I can say about the book without giving the story away but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantastic book that you should read if you haven’t already. Despite the horror element, it’s oddly comforting. It will also make you question how much of what you remember about your childhood is true, and how much of it is just your imagination. Four stars The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Elise Hurst Published: 2013 Publisher: Headline Publishing Group Pages: 327, Paperback