The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The most dangerous place is our childhood
A middle-aged man returns by accident to his childhood home. He start walking towards the lane in front of his former house and whitout thinking he comes to the Farm at the end of the lane, Hempstock Farm.
Here is welcomed by an old lady that resembles the grandmother of Lettie, a girl who was his childhood friend but it can't be her because Thirty years has passed. How can be her if she don't seems aged a bit? Beyond the farm there‘s a small duck pond where he start to reminiscing his past. But the past is not always as we rember it and sometimes monsters and marvels are hiding in it.
Neil Gaiman is worldwide known for is acclaimed and award winning comic books series, the Sandman, in which he describe the story of the lord of the dreams, combining myths, stories and ordinary people. This mix is one of Gaiman's distinguishing features and the Ocean at end of the lane has it too. Gaiman is able to make a miracle: give back to the reader the point of view of a twelve years old. Trowing back the readers in a time when a courtyard was a pirate ship, or when a weeded wild garden was a dangerous Jungle, when the life was full of magic and fears. Another one of the Gaiman's distinguishing features is that the human beings are more important than all the myths and magics. This concept stated with Sandman but it's became clearer from his book American Goods in which Gaiman portrays a series of acient goods who lives amongst humans disguised like them, because they‘ve lost their powers as people gives gods strenghts if they believe in them.
It's not like the human race exist because the gods exists, but the opposite: the gods exists because the human race believes in them. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane Gaiman adopts this concept one more time and make it more ambiguous: the creatures from another world are connect to ours by our history. This book have some influences that are new for Gaiman's style: his rapresentation of childhood was similar in Coraline but this time it seems influenced by Sthepen King's It and Clive Barker's The Thief of Always and the first volume of Arabat, in fact this time the horror elements are more relevant. So, The Ocean at the end of the lane is a book for a reader who wants to revive is childhood and is not afraid of what can be found in it.
|Gaiman, the Tardis (Suranne Jones) and the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)|
A review by Davide Schiano di Coscia