Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Pages: 181 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 3, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman weaves a psychological thriller about an ‘ocean’ at the end of a lane where a man (unnamed deliberately by the author) lived as a young boy.

GoodReads Synopsis

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 boy.

Forty 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 what.

Despite it’s relatively thin length for a novel (181 pages), The Ocean at the End of the Lane compacts a lot of meaning into those pages. And it left me still thinking after I’d finished it with the thought-provoking plotline. The author, Neil Gaiman, did a good job holding my interest through every page and generating intrigue.

A unique twist on the classic good vs. evil story with an adult tone to it, The Ocean at the End of the Lane took a little time to set up before fully launching into the story. I think what made this book fascinating was the surprise ending, and–highlight for spoiler– (the horridness of one Ursula Monkton), and how the author described memory and trauma.

One aspect of the novel that I found to be an interesting choice on the author’s part was the deliberate decision to keep the man (the main character) namelesss throughout the novel. In a way, I thought that it made sense.

Although the novel’s synopsis did not  intrigue me, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Once you begin to read the book, it grips you and does not let you go until you finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel from the excellent writing, plot development, and character development.

I’d recommend this book to people who’ve read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s other novel Coraline or are looking for a good horror-psychological-suspense novel.

Review: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

Title: The Crossroads
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Series: A Haunted Mystery | Book 1
Pages: 329 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)

GoodReads Synopsis

ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

Award-winning thriller author Chris Grabenstein fills his first book for younger readers with the same humorous and spine-tingling storytelling that has made him a fast favorite with adults.

The novel The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein weaves a ghost story of revenge and death.

The Crossroads was written from multiple third-person perspectives. Literary conflicts included character vs. character and character vs. supernatural. Overall I found The Crossroads to be a rather dull with a flat plot at times. Curiously, there were a great number of plot twists, and while I understood most of them, they did not jar me with surprise as other well done plot twists have. I felt that these plot twists just served to complicate the plot and didn’t really ‘add’ anything to the story.

The story moved rather slowly because it took awhile to establish all the characters who are rather interesting in personality for a middle grade novel. On note of the story: it wasn’t what I was expecting. Like Grabenstein’s book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library it was written with a light tone befitting of a middle grade novel. But I did not expect to find murder, insanity, divorce, revenge, and evil spirit possessing in a novel classified as middle grade.

CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution if you’d like to read The Crossroads in the future.

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