Publishers Weekly just gave THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE a starred review. It's a bit Spoilery, so I'm going to put a few sections of it white-on-white. Block to read.
★ The Ocean at the End of the
Neil Gaiman.William Morrow,$25.99 (192p)
“Childhood memories are sometimes
covered and obscured beneath the things
that come later... but they are never lost
for good”—and the most grim of those
memories, no matter how faint, can haunt
one forever, as they do the anonymous
narrator of Gaiman’s subtle and splendid
modern myth. The protagonist, an artist,
returns to his childhood home in the
English countryside to recover his memory of
events that nearly destroyed him and
his family when he was seven. The suicide
of a stranger opened the way for a deadly
spirit... who disguised herself as a housekeeper,
won over the boy’s sister and
mother, seduced his father, and threatened
the boy if he told anyone the truth. He
had allies—a warm and welcoming family
of witches at the old farm up the road...
but defeating this evil demanded a sacrifice
he was not prepared for. Gaiman
(Anansi Boys) has crafted a fresh story of
magic, humanity, loyalty, and memories
“waiting at the edges of things,” where
lost innocence can still be restored as long
as someone is willing to bear the cost.
The Kirkus review, also starred, said (spoilery bit also whited out):
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE [STARRED REVIEW!]
Author: Neil Gaiman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Price ( Hardcover ): $25.99
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-06-225565-5
From one of the great masters of modern speculative fiction: Gaiman’s first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005).
An unnamed protagonist and narrator returns to his Sussex roots to attend a funeral. Although his boyhood dwelling no longer stands, at the end of the road lies the Hempstock farm, to which he’s drawn without knowing why. Memories begin to flow. The Hempstocks were an odd family, with 11-year-old Lettie’s claim that their duckpond was an ocean, her mother’s miraculous cooking and her grandmother’s reminiscences of the Big Bang; all three seemed much older than their apparent ages. Forty years ago, the family lodger, a South African opal miner, gambled his fortune away, then committed suicide in the Hempstock farmyard. Something dark, deadly and far distant heard his dying lament and swooped closer. As the past becomes the present, Lettie takes the boy’s hand and confidently sets off through unearthly landscapes to deal with the menace; but he’s only 7 years old, and he makes a mistake... Instead of banishing the predator, he brings it back into the familiar world, where it reappears as his family’s new housekeeper, the demonic Ursula Monkton. Terrified, he tries to flee back to the Hempstocks, but Ursula easily keeps him confined as she cruelly manipulates and torments his parents and sister. Despite his determination and well-developed sense of right and wrong, he’s also a scared little boy drawn into adventures beyond his understanding, forced into terrible mistakes through innocence. Yet, guided by a female wisdom beyond his ability to comprehend, he may one day find redemption.
Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it’s a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay.
And finally, Booklist gave us a starred review. And there aren't any spoilers to remove...
The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
In Gaiman’s first novel for adults since Anansi Boys(2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he’s just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With “an hour or so to kill” afterward, he drives about—aimlessly, he thinks—until he’s at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond. There, when he was seven, lived the Hempstocks, a crone, a housewife, and an 11-year-old girl, who said they were grandmother, mother, and daughter. Now, he finds the crone and, eventually, the housewife—the same ones, unchanged—while the girl is still gone, just as she was at the end of the childhood adventure he recalls in a reverie that lasts all afternoon. He remembers how he became the vector for a malign force attempting to invade and waste our world. The three Hempstocks are guardians, from time almost immemorial, situated to block such forces and, should that fail, fight them. Gaiman mines mythological typology—the three-fold goddess, the water of life (the pond, actually an ocean)—and his own childhood milieu to build the cosmology and the theater of a story he tells more gracefully than any he’s told since Stardust(1999). And don’t worry about that “for adults” designation: it’s a matter of tone. This lovely yarn is good for anyone who can read it.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: That this is the popular author’s first book for adults in eight years pretty much sums up why this will be in demand.
Those are the reviews we've got so far. I think it's probably my best book, which is why I am very nervous about it, which is why I really want to do whatever I can to make sure that as many people as possible read it.
The William Morrow press office just sent me the dates and locations of the OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE tour.
This may be modified slightly as we go -- I'll add any additional information (there's nothing on ticket prices here, for example -- most stores will count your ticket cost toward the cost of the book.)
The current plan is that I'll sign any copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane for you, and one or two other things, depending on lines and numbers. This may change.
I'll also plan to sign as much as possible of what the bookstore has of mine when I get to each new shop, including many copies of OCEAN. So you can watch me read and do a Q&A and then take off if you do not want to wait.
Many shops will have leftover signed books after the signing, or will take preorders for a book to be signed and sent out. I'll sign all the books that each store needs signed, but there's no guarantee that I'll be able to personalise phone/internet orders.
And yes, this will be my last US book-signing tour. And I'm going to try and do as much as possible of it in a bus, mostly so I can get more sleep than I did on the Anansi Boys tour.
Feel very free to spread the information around. (UK & Canada & the rest of the world signing information is not in this post.)
Neil Gaiman/OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE/Full Ticket Info Events
Tuesday, June 18/BROOKLYN, NY
Greenlight Bookstore w/ Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) @ Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Wednesday, June 19/NEW YORK, NY
Symphony Space “Thalia Book Club Series”
2537 Broadway (@ 95th Street)
New York, NY 10025
Box Office: 212-864-5400
Thursday, June 20/SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
Northshire Bookstore Saratoga @ Saratoga City Center
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Box Office: Tickets will be sold on the store’s website, or in the VT store (4869 Main Street Manchester Center, VT 05255)
Friday, June 21/WASHINGTON, DC
Politics & Prose Bookstore @ George Washington University Lisner Auditorium
730 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Saturday, June 22/DECATUR, GA
Eagle Eye Book Shop @ Agnes Scott College Presser Hall
141 East College Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
Sunday, June 23/CORAL GABLES, FL
Books & Books @ Temple Judea
5500 Granada Boulevard
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Monday, June 24/DALLAS, TX
Dallas Museum of Art @ Majestic Theatre
1925 Elm Street
Dallas, TX 75201
Box Office: 214-922-1818 or visit tickets.dma.org
Tuesday, June 25/DENVER, CO
Tattered Cover Book Store (LoDo)
1628 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202
Wednesday, June 26/PHOENIX, AZ
Changing Hands Bookstore @ South Mountain High School Auditorium
5401 South 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Thursday, June 27/LOS ANGELES, CA
Live Talks Los Angeles w/ Barnes & Noble @ Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203
Friday, June 28/SAN FRANCISCO, CA
The Booksmith @ American Conservatory Theater (ACT) Geary Theater
415 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Saturday, June 29/PORTLAND, OR
Powell’s Books @ Crystal Ballroom
1332 West Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97209
Tuesday, July 2/SEATTLE, WA
University Book Store w/ Clarion West Writers Workshop @ Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Saturday, July 6/SANTA ROSA, CA
Copperfield’s Books @ Santa Rosa Theater
1235 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Sunday, July 7/ANN ARBOR, MI
Nicola’s Books @ Michigan Theater
603 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Box Office: http://www.michtheater.org/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicolas-Books-Ann-Arbors-Premier-Independent- Book-Store/322456060697
Monday, July 8/BLOOMINGTON, MN
Barnes & Noble of Edina @ Jefferson High School Auditorium
4001 West 102nd Street
Bloomington, MN 55437
Tuesday, July 9/CHICAGO, IL
Unabridged Bookstore @ Music Box Theater
3733 North Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613
Wednesday, July 10/NASHVILLE, TN
Parnassus Books @ Tennessee Performing Arts Council’s War Memorial Auditorium
301 6th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243
Box Office: http://www.wmarocks.com/events
Thursday, July 11/LEXINGTON, KY
Joseph-Beth Booksellers @ Grand Reserve Events Center
903 Manchester Street
Lexington, KY 40508
Tickets: purchase at Joseph-Beth Lexington 800 248 6849 or 859 273 2911.
Saturday, July 13/CAMBRIDGE, MA
Porter Square Books @ First Parish Church
1446 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138