It’s a very rare thing, maybe once a decade, for a novel to come along and within a few pages you know you’re reading a future classic. If you haven’t heard of Neil Gaiman yet you can be forgiven, but this, his sixth adult novel, will firmly cement his handprints in the literary walk of fame. The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with a grown man revisiting the countryside home of his childhood – a childhood defined by a single summer when a series of events began with the suicide of a man in a car on the lane. What follows is a dreamlike sequence of sinister magical occurrences, the only salvation from which comes in the form of Lettie Hempstock, the girl from the farm at the end of the lane, who claims there’s an ocean in her back garden and that her grandmother saw the Big Bang.
Philip Pullman famously said: “Without stories we wouldn’t be human beings at all”, and this is one of those stories that is almost primitive in its power – it captures you heart and soul, and makes you grateful we have storytellers like Gaiman to feed our minds and stoke our imaginations. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is this year’s big bang book.