I loved this book! It deals with the truths of childhood memories - did things happen as we remember them, or do we make up our own truths to be the way we need them to be?
The narrator's memories of his 7-year-old self are of a world that takes magical realism to its max. His adventures revolve around his family and the neighboring Hempstock household, consisting of the Lettie (maiden), Ginnie (mother), and Granny (crone) - an altered version of the triple goddess. These powerful women seem to have the ability to transform reality. But are the magic and monsters really a child's coping mechanism to deal with the suicide of their boarder and his father's infidelity with the nanny - big things for a 7-year-old to be exposed to?
Also, loved the way that water is represented as a healing force. The water becomes a character in itself
I was dying to read this book. So I bought it the day it came out and instantly sat down and read it. It was a spectacular read with a dark fairy tale vibe to it and a very nostalgic atmosphere.
The book starts with our nameless main character who is a middle aged man who has journeyed back to his childhood town for a funeral. Once there he journeys to the Hempstock farm and starts to remember strange things about his childhood that he has long forgotten. Thus starts the tale of a seven year boy and a magical girl named Lettie Hempstock who believes the duck pond behind her house is an ocean.
Spectacular read with a dark fairy tale/folklorish vibe to it. I enjoyed it a lot. This book is very atmospheric, full of subtle magic, and a bit creepy.
As normal Gaiman does an excellent job with imagery and really makes the world and time come alive for his readers. The majority of the book is told from a childs perspective and as such the story has a very childlike quality to it. The narrator doesnt see things like an adult would and tends to simplify certain problems while still being able to accept a world beyond his imagination.
We are introduced to a world that is both nostalgic and eerily magical. There are monsters that dwell here and monsters that prey on those monsters. There are strangely sympathetic cats, little girls that are old, and ponds that are really oceans. It is a magical place that lies within and near our world. It is also a dark and scary place but not without its light.
The book mainly emphasis the power and importance of story and the quest of one adult to follow his nostalgia and unravel the mysteries that surround it.
This book would probably be appropriate for young adults, but not for younger readers. The monsters are way to creepy for younger readers, they were enough to give me nightmares. As well there is a scene where the narrators father is intimately involved with another woman (which the narrator as a child doesnt understand). There was also a scene where the narrator digs a gigantic worm out of his foot that really grossed me out...
The story wraps up in a way that is full of irony and will make you chuckle a bit as a reader. It is also a bit sad and melancholy. Its the type of story you think back to and wonder at. Definitely something I will read again at some point.
Overall I thought this was a spectaular read. I loved the dark fairy tale feel to it, the way childhood wonder and nostalgia are portrayed, and the absolutely terrifying monsters that the narrator encounters. Gaiman has a created a story full of the wonder of childhood, the terror of things that bump in the night, and the magicallness of it all. This is a wondrous story that I recommend everyone read.
I picked this book up yesterday and read until 2am, finishing it, and immediately gave it to my 19 year old to read. Devastating, awe-inspiring, amazing. I haven't had a book grab me like this in a long time, I had to see it through to the end. Fortunately, it is not a terribly long book so it let me have some sleep.
It seems odd to say, but I think that this short novel is wonderful the way it is. Usually I would want something so well-written to continue but this story feels complete in it's incompleteness. There are many unanswered questions, many threads left loose, but it all feels right and seems to fit this story. I will be thinking about this tale for a long time to come and I know I will be rereading it, passing it along and giving it out as a gift to those I love who haven't read it.
An absolute must for fans of Neil Gaiman and a great introduction for any who haven't read him yet. Haunting.
This book was a quick read - certainly on the shorter side of "novel". I enjoyed it while I read it, but at the same time, I think part of the reason I read it so quickly was that I was trying to get to the magic that I expected to find. The book never quite reached the level of "Neverwhere" or "American Gods". I think one of the big problems is that 90% of the book is actually just a flashback. The narrator returns home for a funeral and while visiting childhood locations is drawn to a place that triggers forgotten memories. So, it's being told by someone that is just remembering these things - there's no tension, no worry about what's going to happen. And because of that, the book loses something.
The story is an interesting story, I liked the Hempstock's, but the story would have been better told from a "currently happening" perspective. I liked how despite trying to fix things, innocent child mistakes kept making things worse.
I think the biggest disappointment is the lack of impact on the main character - in every other Neil Gaiman book, the main character winds up changed forever from their interaction with the supernatural world. In this book the main character doesn't even remember what happened until he returned to the pond, and so it has no impact on his life. This left a bit of a empty feeling in me when I reached the end and realized I was done.