Bringing Back The Magic




Have you ever picked up and book and thought…

“This is going to be magical!”

We do it often as children; the first time we read “The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe” or nab the last copy of “The Swiss Family Robinson” from the library. We are open, expectant, and still so full of wonder.

I miss that…the older I get and the more I read.  The feeling I used to get when a new book was laid before me. How my eyes would light up, my breath would hitch, and this solid belief I possessed, that if I held that book close enough, or tight enough to my heart I could actually feel the words seeping into my bones. Etching their story into a place of permanence so I would never forget them. I could look at a book and think…

“This is going to be magical.”

And I would truly, honestly, believe it.

Today that feeling was given back to me. Today…my eyes shimmered and my fingers tingled. Because today…I read “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and my gut was right. It was magical.

“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.”

For those of you that have read Neil Gaiman’s work in the past, you already know he has a unique way of story telling. I’m not referring to his Gothic undertones (though they were slightly less under and more blatant tones this go round) or even his ability to incorporate childhood fables into the majority of his work. What I’m referring to is his narrative cadence.


I want you to think back to the last book you read. (Go on…this will just take a second. Promise.) When you were reading that story, WHO was relaying it to you? Chances are you HEARD everything from the character themselves. Am I right? This is often the case, and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with it. I’ll be the first to admit I love living vicariously through characters. But this is not the case in Gaiman novels. Instead they read as if someone on the “outside” is reading it TO you. Like grandpa dropped by for a bite, and then decided to stay for an extra hour and tell you a story. They do not “sound like” words on a page, they “sound like” memories.

He accomplishes this is by interrupting his own story.

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is (for a lack of better terminology) a flashback. The entire novel revolves around the lead protagonists memories. Because of this (rather engaging choice in plot formats) he is able to tell the story AND converse with the reader at the same time.

For example:

“I was not scared of the dark, and I was perfectly willing to die (as willing as any seven-year-old, certain of his immortality, can be) if I died waiting for —“

But these are all semantics aren’t they? Hiccups in the face of what really matters. They story itself.

And this is where things get complicated. I will NOT tell you about the plot itself; other than to say it was spectacular. I will NOT elaborate on the characters; other than to say they were beautifully developed. I will NOT convey to you my thoughts on the ending, because it is the glue that holds the entire novel together.

Instead I’ll tell you that this book is both enlightening:

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”

And frightening:

“Perhaps I ought to turn you inside out, so your heart and brains and flesh are all naked and exposed on the outside, and the skin-side’s inside. Then I’ll keep you wrapped up in my room here, with your eyes staring forever at the darkness inside yourself.”

It’s insightful:

“Nobody actually looks like they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.”

And realistic:

“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”

It told the truth:

“Books were safer than other people.”

“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not on, in the whole wide world.”

In short, it was everything it should be.

It’s expensive, but spend the money. It’s worth every penny.

Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

Rating Report
Overall: 5


About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.

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