We need more fairy tales in the world. And I don’t mean either vampire paranormal tales or moralistic children’s stories. I mean stories that show the world we see as part of a greater world. Stories that get at the real meaning of life. Stories that you can lose yourself in. There are lots of great authors, but few people that write fairy tales.
Gaiman is the best modern fairytale writer that I know of. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is either my second or third most favorite book by Gaiman. I think Stardust is his best (also a great fairy tale for adults). And this vies with Neverwhere as his second best book.
Gaiman is also one of the best author narrators I know of. The only I think is comparable is Madeline L’Engle and she passed away a few years ago. Both sounded like professional narrators, but also kept the quality of author narrator that I love. There is something about an author narrating their own work that just can’t be topped, they know the story better than anyone.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man that remembers a fantastical story from his boyhood. The unnamed boy (man) is not quite what he father wanted in a son. He is a book worm. He lives in the stories. One day the boy meets the Hempstock women (Grandmother, Mother and 11 year old Lettie). This starts his fantastical adventure.
This is a story about good and evil. About powers older than our moon. About a boy that faces his fear and and makes good and bad decsions trying to protect himself, his family, his friend Lettie and in the end, the whole world.
The book is not long. Just over 200 pages and a little more than 5 hours in audio. I will not give away more of the story. But it is a modern take on the classic fairy tale genre. And well worth reading.
My last note is to say that even though the protagonist is a boy throughout most of the book, this is not a children’s story. It is told from a child’s point of view. But with an adults memory of the past. So there are a few places where it verges on an adult book (but only a few). I think this is an appropriate books for the average 14 year old and above.
Related Bookwi.se Reviews of other Neil Gaiman Books
- The American Gods
- The Good Omens
- Click-Clack The Raddlebag (Short Story)