Paperback (Headline Review, 248 pages)
First published 2013; this edition published 2013
Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars
“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.”
God, I love Neil Gaiman’s writing. I love his imagination. Who else could come up with a tale as enchanting and magical and unearthly as this?
My only quibble is that I wish that this novel was longer. I really, really do. I love Gaiman’s style so much, and the story leaves me wanting more of these characters, even though it’s made clear that the event of the novel is an isolated one.
This was a lovely, albeit short tale. The characters are wonderful, the setting mystical, and I have honestly read nothing like it. I love the slightly fey atmosphere that runs throughout the novel, the literal Otherworld that Lettie and her family hail from – just enough to tantalise the reader’s curiosity, and enough to sustain the story and not leave the setting too thin or too flimsy. It is a story concentrated on one small area, one time period in a person’s life, and yet it has more scope than many a fantasy novel I’ve read. I have a soft spot for otherworldly novels, and this one sits in that spot quite nicely.
A brilliant fantasy tale. Gaiman has struck gold once again.