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Sussex England A middle aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral Although the house he lived in is long gone he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road where when he was seven he encountered a most remarkable girl Lettie Hempstock and her mother and grandmother He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades and yet as he sits by the pond a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean behind the ramshackle old farmhouse the unremembered past comes flooding back And it is a past too strange too frightening too dangerous to have happened to anyone let alone a small boyForty years earlier a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road Like a fuse on a firework his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways The darkness was unleashed something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy And Lettie—magical comforting wise beyond her years—promised to protect him no matter whatA groundbreaking work from a master The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out It is a stirring terrifying and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark


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    Lettie shrugged “Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside You don’t I don’t People are much complicated than that It’s true of everybody” This story is an amalgam of helplessness and innocent ignorance of childhood with universe old wisdom with mystery and wonder and unexplainable and unfathomable and things that lurk around the corners of reality and seep through the cracks in the world There's friendship and love and cruelty and resentment And there are monsters and in the true fashion of the tradition I love the real monsters come from the people's wishes the people's own selves the deep down dark that lives inside us “Monsters come in all shapes and sizes Some of them are things people are scared of Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of but they aren't” Maybe once upon a time you were seven and bookish and lonely and sometimes a stranger to your own parents Maybe your first experience with deaths brought into your world a strange family of three living just down the lane in a little farmhouse the Maiden the Mother and the Crone of the fairytales Maybe your first ever friend eleven year old or maybe infinities old who knows? Lettie Hempstock the girl for whom in your seven year old's sense of own immortality you nevertheless are 'perfectly willing to die' because of course she is your friend will take you on an unexpectedly sinister journey culminating somewhere and somewhen under the haunting orange sky And maybe after that nothing will ever be the same “I’m going to tell you something important Grown ups don’t look like grown ups on the inside either Outside they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing Inside they look just like they always have Like they did when they were your age The truth is there aren’t any grown ups Not one in the whole wide world” And maybe something from underneath that sinister sky will choose you as a way to break through reality into your little secure world of a child And maybe because of that you will come to a terrifying realization that the world is not safe that adults may not be there to protect you that world has teeth and is ready to bite you with them any time it wants to And you realize that nothing is as it seems and that there's no reason why the pond cannot be Lettie Hempstock's ocean after all I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger I saw the world from above and below I saw that there were patterns and gates and paths beyond the real I saw all these things and understood them and they filled me just as the waters of the ocean filled meEverything whispered inside me Everything spoke to everything and I knew it all There are certain authors that in my mind have become a genre of their own Neil Gaiman is one of them When I read his books I don't read fantasy or urban fantasy or any other such label What I read is a Gaiman a unique blend of humor and dry wit and a strong narrative voice making the strangest leaps of imagination seem like nothing out of ordinary And every time when I put down the book of his I've been reading into the wee hours of the night unable to stop I find myself with a haunting sense of longing and missing the world he created the world into which he so effortlessly immerses his readers the world of his storytelling that you never want to leave It's like Lettie Hempstock's ocean the waters of which you wish you never had to leave but where you cannot stay forever no matter how badly you would want to I found myself thinking of an ocean running beneath the whole universe like the dark seawater that laps beneath the wooden boards of an old pier an ocean that stretches from forever to forever and is still small enough to fit inside a bucket if you have Old Mrs Hempstock to help you get it in there and you ask nicely Neil Gaiman again is at his best which for him is I guess just ordinary This book will join my personal favorites by him especially 'The Graveyard Book' to which it's a soul cousin And I will revisit it in the future probably than once just to hang out with Lettie and Old Mrs Hempstock and maybe to catch the hint of a wave on an ancient world ocean in the back yard45 stars “And did I pass? The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk On my left the younger woman said You don't pass or fail at a being a person dear”