I received this lovely book when I went to the Neil Gaiman event a few months ago. It was pre-signed (though I did still wait for five hours to get my copy of Stardust signed) and I wanted to tear into it immediately. However, I was halfway through rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so I had to wait.
On my way home from visiting my family last month, I finished reading A Monster Calls not long after my plane taxied out. Thankfully, I'm a chronic over-packer when it comes to books. (I left for that two week long visit with twenty-five books on me. I'm pretty sure I brought double that on the return trip.) I saw this book and immediately fell upon it, hardly even looking up between chapters as I read.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told from the perspective of a nameless male protagonist who finds himself having wandered back to the house at the end of the lane where, once upon a time, he met Lettie Hempstock and thus began the adventure of a lifetime. Only, for some reason, he seem to only just now remember what happened all those years ago, when he was only seven years old and the world became more terrifying than he could ever have imagined.
When a man committed suicide in their neighborhood on a hot summer day, things shifted and beings awoke that should have remained asleep. Lettie, her mother, and grandmother are uniquely equipped to put an end to what has begun to terrorize the neighboring homes, but it only takes one misstep by our protagonist for things to become much worse. What he carries inside him has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone in its path, but Lettie has promised to protect him no matter what the cost. And if he knows anything, it's that the Hempstocks know what they're doing and they are more than capable of bringing this threat to its knees. He can only hope that they manage it before it's too late.
Once again, Neil Gaiman has managed to create a fantastical world that draws the reader in from the start. This book is overflowing with creativity and insightful truths, with more than a little magic sprinkled throughout. I loved every part of this dark fantasy, though it had me equally entranced and horrified. I don't know where the man gets his creative genius, but I would love to find out!
Be prepared, this isn't a kid-friendly fairytale, but it's one of those magical tales you'll want to go back to again and again. This one is going to win more than a few awards and it will deserve every one. You can count on that.
"Oh, monsters are scared," said Lettie." That's why they're monsters. "As for grown-ups . . ." She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, "I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just as they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world."