The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been a large fan of Gaiman since Sandman, so unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to separate my expectations from a serious review of this novel; still, I'll try.
I'm always struck by the solid blending of down-to-earth real-people and situations that are truly magical, never cookie-cutter. The mundane and the magical has never been soft and gentle when they collide. It may be due to the fact that our author always has always used a kid-glove approach to handling the reader, preferring gentle touches and caresses, even when discussing having your heart torn out or discovering a mangled mess of what used to be a man. Toast, even burnt toast, can act as a salve to soothe the ruffled nerves of death, whether in the flashback of the main novel or the funeral at the present time.
It's curious how well it works, and we are left, as readers, in awe that such a writer can pull off this event so carefully that no one thinks twice of it. It is natural, just as all magic is natural. You don't have to be a kid to understand this, either, but for the uninitiated, age 7 can do wonders for any reader's mindset.
The novel isn't huge, the stakes are only large by implication, and the consequences are all intensely personal. The main character, we might be tempted to say, is not our narrator. The main character is the cat; again, ever so gently done. :) Faith, wisdom, magic and the fabric of reality are all given center stage, as are the natures of sacrifice, family, memory, and a bit of the aes sidhe.
Impressively done, wrapped in a package so well written. :)
6/19/16 re-read addendum:
After having watched Coraline about a bazillion times with my baby girl, I'm rather thrilled by the continuance of themes and/or carry-on of mythical creatures that use sewing motifs. :) In this case, very much on the side of the good-guys, but I still have to wonder if it isn't a part of a greater universal weaving. After all, the Hunger Birds have been known to pick at the curtains of reality in the same way. :)
Oh, and I really loved the Ocean more this time. Meow.
Quite a deep read, when you consider things. :)
View all my reviews