The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, 3/5
This slim novel is an entertaining read (disturbing at times), but the storyline felt uncomfortably familiar, like a mash-up of The Princess and Curdie, a Miyazaki film and some Doctor Who episodes, with villains from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure. I understand that there are only a few basic themes and archetypes that comprise most fantasy, but Gaiman’s story did not help me experience them in any way that seemed new or noteworthy, tending instead more toward the cliche and pat. Perhaps it merely betrays its origins as a short story, or perhaps I am sated with excellent fantasy, or perhaps I was just in the wrong mood–there are many reasons why I will give this famous author another try.
[Why I read it: My friend, Alison, enjoyed it and brought to my attention that I haven’t read anything by Gaiman yet (except his collaboration with Terry Pratchett: Good Omens).]
It is more than possible that I have a great dearth of fantasy in my life, and thus was a pushover for some mediocre writing … but truth to tell, I found it enchanting. I am, however, very happy that you did not, and were bold enough to say as much.
And I, likewise, am delighted that you enjoyed the book as it was meant to be enjoyed. I think that fantasy, of all literary genres, is one where differences in opinion/experience amongst readers least surprise me.
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