I’m not going to lie, I made sure to time the completion of this so I could use that title.
Neil Gaiman is one of the best world builders in business and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no exception. Why did I wait so long to introduce Gaiman into my life? I needed an audiobook reset after sloughing through Dearie and this was perfect. A charming story read by the charming author himself.
At the beginning of the novel our unnamed narrator has arrived in his childhood hometown. He is drawn to the house at the end of that lane where a girl he once knew lived with her mother & grandmother and called the pond outside the farmhouse an ocean.
Forty years ago a boarder at the narrator’s house stole a car and committed suicide in it, an act that allowed a darkness into the world. A mystical force begins to give the people in the small town money, but it goes about it poorly and needs to be stopped. Lettie Hempstock, an eleven year old girl with thousands of years of knowledge, vows to protect our narrator from the darkness that has entered the world and takes the boy to the edges of the Hempstock farm where they encounter the creature causing trouble.
“Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters.”
The creature, referred to as a flea, worms (heh heh) her way into the narrator’s life while Lettie is trying to bind it and takes a human form called Ursula Monkton who gets a nannying jobs in the narrator’s home. Right away the narrator has an uneasy feeling about Ursula Monkton and he runs away to the Hempstock farm for help. Getting rid of the flea is no easy task and Lettie makes a sacrifice on order to keep her vow.
This is a beautiful story. My only complaint is it was too short. I could have stayed with the Hempstock women for ages and demand Gaiman write a prequel of all their other adventures!
“I couldn’t get you to the ocean, but there was nothing stopping me bringing the ocean to you.”