Neil Gaiman returns to familiar territory with his much-anticipated novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, forthcoming from William Morrow on June 18. The story explores the dark spaces of myth, memory, and identity through the experiences of a young boy, recalled by his adult self upon a visit to the place where he grew up—the place where he brushed something larger, more grand and impossible, than himself. As the flap copy says, “When he was seven years old, he found himself in unimaginable danger—from inside his family, and from without. His only hope is the girl who lives at the end of the lane. She says her duck pond is an ocean. She may be telling the truth. After all, her grandmother remembers the Big Bang.”
The flap copy perhaps misrepresents the tone of this novel; it sounds all together more playful than this sharp, poignant, and occasionally somber tale actually is. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Gaiman’s first novel directed toward adults since 2005’s Anansi Boys, but within it, he creates a curious tonal hybrid: the narrative is framed by an adult voice, and the content of the story is frequently outside of what would be seen in a children’s book—yet, the majority of the tale is told as by a child, with a child’s eyes and sense of storytelling. It is as if this novel settles on a middle-ground between Gaiman’s various potential audiences.