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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

We meet our narrator on the day of a funeral. On his drive, he comes to a house that he remembers from his childhood and it stirs up old, dark memories from his childhood which he begins to explore by the pond that his friend, who he can't quite remember, called an ocean.

As he sits he remembers living in a house just up the lane, and meeting Lettie Hempstock and her family, who seem older than logically or physically possible - Granny Hempstock remembers the Big Bang.

They meet Ursula Monkton, a dark, ancient creature, in her huge, decaying tent form, and she uses the Narrator to leave her land and try to claim his family and the land for her own. Ursula seduces the family as a kindly, efficient housekeeper, while tormenting the young boy, though everyone else is unaware of it.

It's a dark, rich, tale that examines childhood memories and the dark fantasies that lurk at the edges of our imagination. It blurs the lines between what we know to be real and what could be real, especially as children, and we sympathise with the Narrator's frustration at how the family can't see who Ursula Monkton really is - a monster.

The story is gripping and never without a dull moment, and you can find yourself longing for the safety and comfort of a family home like the Hempstocks'. Highly recommended fantasy read.

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