There are times when it is hard to tell whether a book is for children or for adults, especially when it comes to a fantastic tale revolving around children and other worlds within a world. In this work, Neil Gaiman has managed to intertwine both the fears and lives of a child with the almost real world of adults, of modern and timeless. There are moments of an almost philosophical nature, carefully combined with memories of a childhood caught within two worlds, that of the real and that of the imagined. There are moments of fear, everyday fear of the dark, of being alone, of being helpless crafted into a whole with those of the fantasy world every child imagines for themselves, where they are the hero, they are the immortal power which brings everything back into its ordered role.
Photo Credit: OLDSKOOLDAVE – Creative Commons
Despite its relatively short length – Gaiman admits it was intended as a short story originally – The Ocean At The End Of The Lane takes the reader into themselves, back to their childhood days, back to a time when darkness was a time of fear, when marvelous monsters and fairies lived at the end of the lane, the bottom of the garden. His words weave a spellbinding story which loses nothing by being read through adult eyes; the reader is taken back to their own childhood fantasies, their own youthful fears. And it is much more:
Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.
Gaiman’s newest work reminds adults of what it was like to be a child, to explore and, above all, to learn something of this world which they, as adults, have forgotten: the fantastic; the unbelievable; their suppressed imagination. It is exceptionally well written, from the viewpoint of a child, which loses nothing for being aimed at an adult audience, for reminding us of what we once had and what we have lost. And loss is also a major part of the tale, be it the loss of innocence or a friend, a perfect mixture of fantasy and reality from a world we all wish we could revisit, relive.
Publisher: Harper. ISBN 978 0 06 232513 6.
- Viktoria Michaelis.