3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Ocean in a bucket,
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This review is from: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Hardcover)
When I started this book I was filled with expectation of joys and insights into the human condition and the meaning of life. However, in the first few chapters the author is actually quite cruel to the reader. Painting a picture of (from the point of a viewer) an unhappy childhood which the protagonist does not realise is unhappy. I felt almost cheated as I had been waiting for this book since its announcement earlier this year (or it may have been last year) and didn't like at all the feelings that it invoked in me.
This was all almost certainly by design.
The story soon moves into more interesting territory with the introduction of familiar and comfortable tropes for those who read fairy stories and legends with a huge dollop of sudden technical literacy which caused a burst of laugher; waking up my sleeping wife beside me. I really LOL'd and had to read out that section to her, until she fell asleep again. Further on, the book's antagonist is just what is expected. Dark and capricious; sullen and cruel, so cruel, purely for the sake of being cruel. I thought she was wonderful... and terrifying. There were some fantastic turns of English phrase which I loved and a solid story of growing up and finding out how big, scary and truly weird the world is around you. There is the occasional mystery that Mr Gaiman leaves to work out as an exercise for the reader and what are obviously some very personal vignettes from the author sprinkled throughout the story. It is, as has been announced elsewhere, probably a modern classic and a very, very beautiful and worthwhile story.