I did not know anything about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or Neil Gaiman, when I started reading this novel, other than some friends highly recommended it. So when the story took a turn toward the fantastical, I almost put it down. Is it possible Mr. Gaiman anticipated this? Because just as I was about to abandon the book, the narrator made the following observation: “Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.” Chastened, I continued. Well played, Mr. Gaiman, well played.
This novel is for the most part a YA book, but it is told from the perspective of an adult man looking back on a phantasmagorical encounter. His vantage point brings the novel into the realm of adult fiction and leads the reader to ponder on the role of imagination, and memory and forgetting in and about our childhood. It made me remember a time in my life when I truly believed in magical worlds, and it saddened me that those beliefs slip away…or are they gently erased by the guardians of these alternate universes?
Because I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the genre, I was not crazy about the book, but it was well written, suspenseful, and enjoyable. Recommended for a lighter summer read.