It’s A Pond, No, It’s An Ocean (The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – A Book Review)

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2013

Ocean at the End of the Lane

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Attending a funeral, a man comes back to the remnants of his childhood home and then is drawn to the house at the end of the lane where he sits at the edge of a pond. This pond is special. It isn’t a pond at all, but a a sea…an ocean. That’s what Lettie Hempstock called it and she was right. She, her mother and her grandmother, women who were mysterious and mystical had more than once told him how they came there across this ocean. That there was a world there beyond his wildest dreams and worst nightmares past it.

As the narrator sits there, he begins to remember when he nearly choked in his sleep from a coin being lodged in his throat, and an Opal miner turned up dead, and how his friend, Lettie, who promised to protect him, had to defeat a supernatural creature that came in the form of Ursula Monkton, the new housekeeper/babysitter that came from another world and was taking over his home. There was something magical and frightening in that memory, down at the end the end of the lane. As he recall every minute detail he relives a world that shouldn’t have made any sense, but it did. And as quickly as he remembered, he forgot.

I do not know how to express how much I’ve come to love Neil Gaiman and his magic. Having read American Gods, I was ready to read his other works wherever I could find it. Down at the bottom of a dusty box, in the stockroom of the bookstore, Ocean At The End Of The Lane stared up at me like a beacon and I was so excited. I can still recall jumping up and down faster than the speed of light and getting to set it on the back counter so that I could buy it on payday.

Excited

Gaiman’s riveting detail still surprises me to no end. It’s so beautiful and frightening in a single breath. The storytelling comes from a unique standpoint as well.

As I read, I became enchanted and amazed by the world that was created just between two houses. This story didn’t take place across a large setting like a country or a town. There was no road trip. More so, the world seemed so much larger than just these two places, in the memory of one man. I can’t pinpoint it precisely, except to say that I was deeply reminded of The Spiderwick Chronicles and the harrowing adventures in the small series. This was like the grown-up, more intense version.

Ocean at the end of the Lane - Spiderwick

 

One of the most important elements (to me anyway) that I’ve come to notice in Gaiman’s books, the ones that I’ve read so far, is the great detail he gives to the moon. It is such a magical and fantastical being, though it’s so far away and, maybe it’s just me, but we can’t help but want to reach out and touch or let it swallow us whole in its beautiful, pale light or even just talk to it because it’s such a great listener. I’m taken over by a bout of warmth and fuzziness with how Gaiman writes about the moon and that it’s more than just a rock in the sky. It gives light in the dark, shining a way home.

Moon

While I was deeply enveloped in the magic of the book and I do believe it was all magic, there is a question to be posed. Was this memory all in the narrator’s imagination? Was this how he coped with serious events that rocked his life, like for example, the man’s death that he and his father discovered? After all, this book takes place in the narrator’s memory and people remember things differently from other people.

 

This book was phenomenal. If only I had enough words to describe how extraordinary Gaiman’s storytelling is. All I can say is, you have to read it for yourself.

 

Quotables:

“Can’t drink the water from the sea, can you? Too salty. Like drinking life’s blood.” (Grandma Hempstock, p. 7)

“Small children believe themselves to be gods, or some of them do, and then can only be satisfied when the rest of the world goes along with their way of seeing.” (narrator, p. 51)

“Adult stories never made sense, and they were so slow to start. They made me feel like there were secrets, Masonic, mythic secrets, to adulthood.” (narrator, p. 53)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Runaway by Thriving Ivory. 
Twitter: @CheshireKat_92

Goodreads: Kat J. 

Advertisements

It’s a God’s World (American Gods – A Book Review)

American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2001

AG - bustle

Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Shadow Moon is released from prison a couple of days early due to losing his wife and best friend in a car accident. With nothing left for him in his hometown of Eagle Point, Indiana he accepts a job from the grifter, Mr. Wednesday, not questioning anything so long as he doesn’t have to kill anybody.

“You work for me. You protect me. You help me. You transport me from place to place…In the unlikely event of my death, you will hold my vigil…” (p. 47)

Things get strange quickly. He starts having dreams of a man with a white buffalo’s head. A leprechaun teaches him some new coin tricks. But, for Shadow it doesn’t feel so strange. His encounters with gods do not faze him so much as does his dead wife who comes to visit him on occasion.

Shadow drives across the U.S. with Mr. Wednesday to talk to people or rather, gods, about a coming storm, a war and it’s between new gods and old gods. From a museum to a funeral home to a small town where nothing bad happens ever, Shadow is meeting all sorts of Gods, like Easter and Horus.

Simply put, this story is phenomenal from the first page to the very last. The intertwining of mythologies with the modern age, which is always changing, creates a brand new magic all its own. Over and over again I found myself saying, “What the eff?”, but in such a good way. I haven’t been so surprised or educated by such originality in years. My brain was completely blown out of my skull.

For those who are lovers of mythology, and epic detail similar to Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, this is most certainly for you. The imagery pulled me into this book just like the movie The Pagemaster.

Pagemaster - buzzfeed

Books like this remind me of why it is that I write. They evoke more than just emotions or relatability. They pull me into a whole new world. I’m definitely going back and rereading this again sometime. I still feel like there’s so much more I don’t know that happened within the book and that makes me even happier.

Now, the show adapted from the book started on April 30th, 2017 and if you haven’t read the book it’ll be confusing at first. The show is an instant attention grabber. And Ricky Whittle (The 100) as Shadow? *faints*

Shadow Moon

I can’t wait to see who comes in to portray Sam Black Crow. She’s is my favorite character. She’s got a lot of spunk and is one of the few normal friends that Shadow happens upon.

AG - tublr

Tune in to Starz on Sunday at 9PM if you are ready for this.

 

NEW!

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the book. If you consider excerpts/quotes to be spoilers then do not read any further.

 

Wednesday looked at him with amusement and something else—irritation perhaps. Or pride. “Why don’t you argue?” asked Wednesday. “Why don’t you exclaim that it’s all impossible? Why the hell do you just do what I say and take it all so fucking calmly?” (p. 433)

Definitely a question I asked during this whole book.

 

“What the hell? We’ll always have Peru ,” he said, under his breath, as Sam walked away from him. “And El Paso. We’ll always have that.” (p.729)

 

“Hey, Sweeney,” said Shadow, breathless, “why are we fighting?”

“For the joy of it,” said Sweeney, sober now, or at least no longer visibly drunk. “For the sheer unholy fucken delight of it. Can’t you feel the joy in your own veins, rising like the sap in the springtime?” (p. 55)

More to come soon…

K.

P.S. Today’s song? Don’t Fear the Reaper, version by Denmark and Winter.