The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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A man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England, and memories from his childhood come flooding back to him, nagging at him, drawing him to the home of a childhood playmate, Lettie, and events that, looking back, don’t seem like anything other than fantasy. What was real, what was the imagination of a lonely little boy? Evil creatures, world domination, murder, the spirit world and much more will lead readers into a whirlwind of action and fantasy.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman,   is in the genre that I lovingly refer to as “Magical Realism”, and it doesn’t come up on my site very often because it is a bit of a dark horse in the world of literature. Magical Realism simply means that the author has taken “real” life people and settings and inserted fantasy and/or magical elements into that world. Neil Gaiman has a number of novels on my top favorites list, and if you haven’t read him, but you like dark fantasy, you don’t want to miss out on his work. Examples of other magical realism novels are:

Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere

John Connolly’s “The Book of Lost Things

Christopher Moore’s “Practical Demonkeeping

Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Doyce Testerman’s “Hidden Things

Anyone who likes to see an average person suddenly brought into a situation involving evil fantastical beings will probably like this genre and The Ocean at the End of the Lane would be a good place to test out those waters. Check it out if you dare.

Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman

One night, Calliope Jenkins, P.I., gets a phone call from her business partner that changes her life forever. There was nothing special about the phone call, just a check-in while he was on a job in the middle of the night. When the police appear on her doorstep claiming that her partner is likely dead, and they have found a body that may be his, Calliope refuses to believe it. She even has a voicemail from Josh that was received an hour AFTER the body was found. Something suspicious is happening and Calliope is about to take on an investigation that hits very close to home. A homeless man who seems to be wearing clown makeup keeps appearing wherever Calliope goes, and she is getting tired of kicking his butt. When she finally listens to the man, she agrees to take his advice and follow some clues that will let her know just what happened to Josh.

Reality begins to blur, as Calliope realizes that there is much more to the world than she has been led to believe. There are secret doorways into other worlds, monsters hiding in plain sight, dragons and fantastical creatures in the most mundane places, like karaoke bars and rest stops. Can Calliope get past the obstacles along the way in time to save her partner? Can it all be real? If Josh is actually dead, what does he want from her, that he would call her from beyond the grave?

Readers who loved these:

Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere

John Connolly’s “The Book of Lost Things

Christopher Moore’s “Practical Demonkeeping

Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Will adore Doyce Testerman’s Hidden Things“, which combines urban fantasy with dark sarcasm in perfect proportion. This reviewer was actually sad that the book was over-I wanted to know what else that fantasy world had to offer a girl! This novel is not for the average reader, but for the few who can appreciate dark humor and fantasy. If you think this may be a book you want to try, based on my description, then absolutely DO NOT miss it.

Sacré Bleu is a masterpiece of fiction

Artist Vincent Van Gogh allegedly commits suicide, and his painter contemporaries are saddened but credit the deed to his well-suspected lunacy. Some of his friends, however, find the event strange. Why would a man who didn’t own a gun shoot himself with someone else’s gun, then walk miles in the country to find help? Lucien Lessard and his friend Henri Toulouse-Loutrec are bothered by the story, but can’t quite place the source of their unrest, especially when there are beautiful women to chase and masterpieces to paint (if both can be done at the same time, it is considered a very good day).

Life isn’t all art and merriment, of course. Henri finds the woman he once adored and she has no recollection of him. Surely this cannot be true. He must get to the bottom of this strange amnesia that his painter friends and the models among them seem to keep catching from one another. And who is this “Colorman” who appears and obnoxiously gives away his precious blue paint, then disappears once again. An increased popularity among the Great French Masters in the expensive and rare paint, the “Sacred Blue” and a strange series of events including unexplained deaths and disappearances can’t possibly connected…Or can they?

Things aren’t quite adding up to a logical conclusion, and Lucien and Henri decide to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on before more people get hurt…If only Lucien could avoid the bewitching beauty, Juliette, who seems determined to see him as the greatest painter who ever lived, and who keeps offering to pose nude for him. Such sacrifice to be an artist…

The mystery of the blue paint will take readers to places they never expect the story to go, and there is a little something for everyone. If you love art, this fictional portrayal of the French Greats, including Manet, Monet, Seurat, Renoir, Gauguin, and more, will be highly enjoyable, as you are blessed with fictional accounts of just what the personalities of these men might have been like. If you have a moderately sick sense of humor, this book will bring you to tears with laughter over and over again.

If you don’t mind reality being stretched for the sake of a seriously humorous story, you won’t want to miss Sacré Bleu, by Christopher Moore, who is also known for Lamb, Fool, You Suck, Bite Me, and more.