Our adult male narrator has returned to his hometown of Sussex, England for a funeral but finds himself drawn to where his childhood home used to stand. Once there, it seems that he really wants to continue to the end of the lane and to the old farmhouse still standing there. Suddenly, a flood of memories come back to him – memories of an intense and surreal adventure he had when he was seven years old. But it is any of it real?
Neil Gaiman has this way of wrapping the reader up in his world immediately. Once you are in, you just can’t shake him – which is why I read this book in one day. I’d put it down to do something else, but was pulled back again and again until I reached its conclusion. Gaiman also has this way of creating such a world in which “it is what it is” – you just accept the fantasy elements without explanation or question. It somehow fits so nicely into the way we already see the world, that his version can be woven into our own constructs with ease. I love that.
This narrator is an interesting one, as the writing could almost seem somewhat autobiographical. I was picturing my own little version of a seven year old Neil Gaiman having this adventure with the older girl, Lettie Hempstock, at the end of the lane. I felt his fear of his father and of the nasty woman who was supposed to be taking care of him. I felt his loneliness and also his innocent bravery in the face of monsters. It all seems so real, and yet has this thin veil of fantasy over it.
This highly anticipated new novel of Gaiman’s certainly does not disappoint!