The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an adult fairy tale by the wonderful Neil Gaiman whose fantastical tales have entertained young and old alike. I have read other Gaiman stories that I have enjoyed, but this is a clear favorite.

It is short, but not sweet. It is downright scary at times and grimly honest in its depiction of family dysfunction. There is a horrific scene with our seven year-old protagonist and his father that is far too sobering and real. Meanwhile, there are glimpses of otherworldly horrors and astonishing peace and beauty.

It is all centered on the family living at the end of the land, Lettie Hemstock, her mother and grandmother. They are women out of time and certainly out of this world. There is a pond there at the end of the lane. But, Lettie insists it is an ocean and you know what, it is.

When a tragedy frees an unnatural force, our narrator makes the smallest of mistakes that attaches great peril to him and his family. We see the effects and his determined effort to seek help from the Hempstocks. He is a brave little boy. He learns a lot about the secrets of the ocean and the universe in the struggle to free him from that force. In the process, sacrifices are made to save his life and in the end, there is the eternal question we all must answer. At the end of the day, are we worth it?

4pawsI recommend this book without reservations. It is short, a novel you can read in one bite if you choose. It is a fairy tale, a grim one like the old Grimm tales. It has eternal themes, a fascinating cosmogony, and all the wonder, magic and peril you can ask for.