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.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Mr. Fox has a muse named Mary. Mary is sexy, witty, sweet, and has all the features of his dream woman. Mr. Fox’s wife, a fairly ordinary woman, is beginning to pick up on signs that there is another woman in his life. Can she compete with a woman who her husband, a writer, has dreamed up for himself? How does a wife compare to the woman of her husband’s dreams? Mary, the muse, is not happy with the current situation. She wants to get out into the world and have a life of her own, and she is getting stronger and more rebellious. She is leaving more and more evidence of her existence for Daphne to find. Mr. Fox has to make some serious decisions. Can he let go of the woman he dreamed up to save his marriage? Is his marriage worth saving? How long can he keep his secrets in the shadows?

This novel is broken up by short stories which add a mystical tone to the novel, there is a touch of fantasy and a hint of folklore spread throughout the stories. The real challenge is remembering what is going on with Mr. Fox, because you get so swept up by the short stories that you forget about the main characters completely. The closest in genre that I can relate to this novel is Of Bees and Mist, by Erick Setiawan, but even that is a stretch, because the magical elements of the story are easy to differentiate from the psychological possibilities.

If you like novels that don’t fit into any genres, that push the barriers between sanity and insanity, that blur the lines between fantasy and reality, then you should give Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi a try.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray is a teenage girl with normal teenage problems-or so she thinks. One evening, in a dance club, she witnesses a murder-and her entire reality becomes a lie. Living right beside her, her entire life, have been supernatural beings threatening to war against one another. The disappearance of her mother, followed by an encounter with a horrible monster in her own apartment draw her in to a world unlike anything she has ever known.

This Young Adult/Teen novel is the first novel of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Clary befriends The Shadowhunters in an alliance to find her mother and bring balance back to the universe, fighting against a grave enemy that is connected to her in a way she would never imagine. If you love this series, be sure to check out her Infernal Devices series, which is set in the same fantasy world.

If you are the type of adult who enjoys a good teen paranormal fiction novel (Twilight, etc), then you won’t want to miss this series, which has family values, friendship, a touch of romance, and a whole lot of good versus evil…