6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Best Friends in Life...,
This review is from: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Kindle Edition)
Gaiman scores another triumph with this coming of age tale of a 7-year-old boy who finds true friendship in an 11 year-old girl. The plot is neither complex nor particularly groundbreaking. But if you are familiar with Gaiman's stories, you will find that the magic in them is sort of a given, and what separates this novel from countless other fantasy tales about a boy who faces supernatural forces larger than he can handle, is the way the magic is so intricately woven into Gaiman's story universe that when you encounter it, you almost miss it because it is so unobtrusive, and most important, believable.
In some ways an allegorical look at how a child views the adult world and its cunning complexities and inconsistencies, this is best exemplified in a pivotal scene when our unnamed protagonist faces his new nanny, who reveals herself to be more than just uncommonly sadistic and mean: "Ursula Monkton smiled, and the lightnings wreathed and writhed about her. She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty".
Gaiman does child narratives best, and sometimes I marvel at how accurately he inhabits the skin of children, such that when he writes about a child's belief in basic things like loyalty and courage, it resonates with the heart and soul of childlike conviction. For example, when the boy speaks of his complete trust in Lettie Hempstock, the mysterious 11 year-old with a soul as old as the hills, he says: "I believed in her, and that meant I would come to no harm. I knew it in the way I knew that grass was green, that roses had sharp, woody thorns, that breakfast cereal was sweet".
This novel is proof that good stories need not always have long, complex narratives - they just need to be sincere, and when appropriate, a little bit of magic always help.