I’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman before, but I see his name and his books around everywhere and felt that I needed to see for myself why his books are so loved. In particular, The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been receiving such positive buzz that I finally got a copy from the library. However, once I held the book in my hands, I was hesitant to start reading. Scary stories can creep me out. I do most of my reading in the evenings, and I didn’t want to read something that would unsettle my sleep. So I saved it for the weekend.
The book is short and a very fast read, so I was able to finish it well before my bedtime. And in fact, it would have been all right either way. It wasn’t as creepy as I feared.
While he sits there, he recalls and narrates the strange and terrifying things that happened to him when he was seven. They are otherworldly and worldly and include all the things that would terrify a seven-year-old boy–things that are frightening to grown-ups as well. His world dissolved around him and the only thing left for him to trust was Lettie.
It’s a spellbinding story, full of interesting images and nasty creatures that aren’t evil, they just are what they are. It reminded me a tiny bit of some of the stories in Nikolai Gogol’s The Collected Stories. Things that scare us are timeless.