Book Blog - The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys. This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real... 

I realize I am in a tiny, isty-bitsy minority (and I am terribly embarrassed to admit it), but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is my first Neil Gaiman novel.

I will wait a beat for the ensuing outrage to die down...


Can I talk about it now?

Although this novel is not labeled as a children's book, the protagonist's story is told mostly from the perspective of a small boy.  More importantly, there's much for writers to learn from reading this book - no matter what your target audience.

Last week, we talked about the five senses and this book is a perfect example of how a master uses the senses--especially taste.  Every time I was almost overwhelmed with the dark suspense, and seemingly no way out scenarios, there was a reprieve in the form of an amazing meal.  It was almost as comforting for the reader as it was for the narrator.

Here's only one sentence to highlight exactly what I mean: 
"For dessert there was pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home."
The world building, including the amazing meals, is flawless.  From the vocabulary choices to the descriptive scenes, I felt this book through every sense. I was also drawn to the seamless interplay of fantasy and reality.  As a reader, I believed everything and anything was  possible and just might happen at any turn of the page.  Even the most fantastical element was completely plausible.

So if you are one of the very few that have not read a Neil Gaiman book, I highly recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  If you are already a fan, I'm sure you've already read it.  Either way, think about the craft of including all the senses when you read this one.

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