Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is brilliant. When I say this, I don't mean 'smart' brilliant (although it is this as well), I mean 'moonlight' brilliant. Reading this novel is like walking through the woods at night, coming to a clearing, looking up at a patch of sky encircled by tree braches and being overwhelmed by the dazzling brightness of a full moon you never even knew was above you all long. Take-your-breath-away-piercing-somewhere-in-the-back-of-your-heart-in-a-place-you-thought-you-had-forgotten kind of brilliant. Yeah, that kind.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is terrifying- "nightmares tearing at a nightmare" (pg. 128) in that it is primal and calls upon childhood fears that I believe resonate deep within everyone. It is also comforting- "I would stay here for the rest of time in the ocean which was the universe which was the soul which was all that mattered" (pg. 145) in that it brushes against certain undeinable truths that we all intrinsically ache for, but want only to reach out to, not actually touch. Gaiman's writing in The Ocean at the End of the Lane is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's and Roald Dahl's and Stephen King's and classic fairy tales and his own earlier work, but it transcends comparisons as well. It is a jewel of a novel- sparkling while you read, and shimmering on the back of your eyelids long after you have turned the last page.