‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman *** (Book Club Read, September 2013)

In reality, I would award The Ocean at the End of the Lane a three and a half star review, as I was so swept up in its beginning.  I loved the element of magical realism which had skilfully been woven through – perhaps my favourite element of all of Gaiman’s books.  I also loved the creepiness, and the fact that the book was both a relatively comfortable read in terms of its style and rather horrible in its plot.  I felt that this juxtaposition worked wonderfully.

I felt so sorry for the protagonist, that little nameless boy, throughout.  Ursula as a villain was just right to challenge his bravery, and she reminded me somewhat of the ‘Other Mother’ from Coraline.  The tale is well paced and the plot intriguing.  The story is well constructed on the whole, but for me, the ending let it down a little.  I didn’t feel that the story’s conclusion was as clever as it could have been.

With regard to Gaiman’s writing, I enjoyed the almost childish narrative style.  Even though the story is told in retrospect, Gaiman manages to skilfully show how events in the protagonist’s childhood had such a profound effect upon him.  The idea of buried memories coming to the surface was a great one.  Some of Gaiman’s descriptions were very nice indeed, particularly with regard to the colours he employs in his descriptions – for example, a ‘fog-colored house cat’.

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