A book by an author you love, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an excellent October read—it is perfect to get you into the Halloween mood. It is a blend of nostalgic childhood nightmares entwined with beautifully crafted magical realism. In Gaiman’s talented hands, it feels as natural as breathing and as profoundly horrifying as falling into a nightmare. For me, this novel had the same creepy factor as Coraline— that awful feeling of being a child who is trapped and unable to save yourself or your parents from some unimaginable horror. Gaiman taps into this visceral feeling so masterfully, it takes me back to that place from my childhood in an instant. I hated feeling powerless to stop things that I knew were wrong or bad, and to have adults not believe me when I told them that impossible things were, indeed, happening. Tapping back into that powerlessness is a raw and horrifying experience beyond any other nightmarish ghouls a writer can think up because it taps into real nightmares–the true terrors of my past, long hidden in a deep closet within the deepest spaces of my mind. This gives Gaiman’s writing real power in my opinion. To reduce a reader to that small, terrifying space in just a stroke of a pen—well, no other writer has been able to accomplish that for me. It’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling, but it is still genius to have that ability. True art should make us uncomfortable; it should hold up that mirror and force you to look at the ugly parts. Coming face to face with your own inner demons is probably the scariest thing for an adult, and this novel definitely made me squirm.
In this novel, Gaiman’s adult protagonist visits home for a family funeral. He travels down the lane where his old house used to stand, and continues down to the end of the lane where he encounters an old farm. When he gets out of the car, memories of his childhood flood back—slowly at first, then rushing, like the titular ocean. A fantastic yet oddly believable story about magic and terrifying creatures unfolds as the narrator recounts the tale about the girl who lived by the ocean at the end of the lane. In true Neil Gaiman style, you will be swept up into this narrative until the gripping, tragic conclusion.