Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
I picked up this book after Helena Sorenson mentioned it in her article “The World Was An Ocean” over at The Rabbit Room. I love Good Omens and Fortunately the Milk, so I knew of course that anything written by Gaiman would be a masterpiece.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, this novel exceeded my expectations and met me where I was emotionally.
There were definitely a few deeply dark and disturbing moments. If you’re triggered by suicide and child abuse, this book may not be for you. However, the moments of light and the sense of feminine protection made the dark moments so worth it for me personally.
This is going on my list of favorite contemporary fantasy novels. I will be reading it again.