This year I’m giving each nominated work for the Hugo and Nebula novel awards their very own entry after I read them.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was a lovely book.

I had requested an electronic copy of this book from the library back in May, and it just came through before I went on my solo backpack this last weekend. Based on the other Nebula award nominees, I was anticipating another lengthy, complex book. I thought that it would take me the entire weekend to read it, or even the weekend and more.

But I finished it the second night of my trip. I’m not sure how long it is in pages, since the Kindle displays reading time remaining rather than page numbers, but I don’t think it could have been very long. However, it wasn’t just the length that made it a quick read for me. The style was inviting, and the story was compelling. I wanted to know what happened next through each chapter, and each subsequent event had that magic combination of surprise and inevitability to it for me.

The story utilized a framing device, telling the story of the narrator’s experience as a young boy through the mind of him as an adult. That could have gone sour, but the way that it ended, that the narrator has returned to the house and remembered this many times, only to have the experience edited out of his memory each time, felt like a fresher turn than it simply being the first time he remembers these events.

The child perspective, or the tone, or the matter-of-fact aspects of the magic… something reminded me of reading Diana Wynne Jones.

On my first of three nights alone in the Sawtooth Wilderness, this book helped distract me from loneliness and fear of what might be out there in the dark. I believe I would have liked it anyway, but this novel will always have that special luster in my memory, and remind me of that night. 

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