Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
What can I say about this book; I brought it home from the library and sat down to read, only realising when my Husband walked in from work that I had not only spent a whole afternoon reading, but that I had also finished this book. Yes, it is that good.
This book doesn’t give itself to my usual review style, I can’t place it in one genre or another and know it will be comfortable there; the characters within its pages do not lend themselves to analysis and, this left me with a quandary as to how to review it.
One thing that is central to this book is a feeling of loss, not in the convention ‘someone died’ sense, but a mourning of things gone by, a simpler time when nothing was expected of us, and I suspect that any reader that picks this up will feel that loss as they progress through the book. It permeates each page and pulls the reader into it without any indication it is going to let go until it has fulfilled its purpose.
I have read only two works previously by this Author, The Sandman Collection and Good Omens, so I thought I was going into these pages with a slight grasp of what this Author is capable of; I was so mistaken in that sense. This book was like nothing I had ever read before, whether penned by this Author or someone else. I know there are more skilled reviewers out there that will probably have written, or are writing, a complete breakdown on character development, writing style, the whole nine yards, but to me this would have been an almost impossible task, as I feel in doing so I would have had to reveal so much about this novels contents there would have been no need for any other reader to open its covers.
I know this review seems very much a ‘cop-out’, and I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone reading it thinks I have been rambling on about something I have not read; this is not the case. There is an old saying that goes ‘if you love something set it free…’ I loved this book and to try to capture it totally in my words would have felt like keeping a free spirit in a cage and watching it wither, I just couldn’t do.
My reasoning behind giving this book a 4 thumbs review, and not the 5 thumbs readers may think I should have awarded it is; when I closed the back cover and looked at it on my lap, apart from feeling like I had been transported out of my reality into another the main thought in my head was’ that’s it?, it can’t end like this’.
I highly recommend this book to readers from teens upwards, and anyone who is a Gaiman fan. Prepare to lose an afternoon, or an evening, and be prepared for the jolt you will receive at the end.