The Internet hype machine almost ruined this for me. Like the rest of Neil Gaiman’s legion of adoring fans, I waited for the release of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I tracked its progress, but tried my best to avoid reviews. Which was a stretch because, being a highly anticipated novel by a widely loved author, it was simply everywhere. When I finally got my copy, I began reading somewhat rebelliously, refusing to be taken in. The book itself is a slight thing, a three-hour engagement at most. But like that duck pond in the story, it is an ocean. I didn’t know what was happening until I looked up and realized I was already waist-deep. The story found me, like seawater finding cracks in a stone wall, and it has been weathering my heart since.
In grade school, some of my friends and I would have lunch in a small wooded area behind the main building. We’d fill the air with our voices and the sounds of our play. When the afternoon bell called us back to our learning, a heavy silence would fall over the woods. There were times I’d find myself there alone, having ran back for some forgotten item or taken a shortcut to the Industrial Arts classroom. The sun would be high in the sky, the bright light casting flickering shadows of leaves on the brown soil. The woods felt alive but dormant, as if disturbing the quiet might stir something into waking. I would be a little scared, but curious and defiant, staring at strange, moving shadows longer than I should. The feeling of that place was real and dream-like, an overlap of worlds. Under the haze of remembrance, this is how I felt while reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
This was a post by Kubi who is still thinking about this book.