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The Ocean at the End of the Lane : 07/29/14
First and foremost, if you see an audio book written and read by Neil Gaiman, put down whatever else you're reading or listening to, and immediately start listening to Gaiman's book. Heck, he should be invited to read other author's books too for audio.
Although I have a lovely hardbound edition of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and I was starting to read it — mostly by petting it first and flipping through to random passages — you know the way you introduce yourself to a new book before actually sitting down to start at page one and reading. And then my lovely local public library featured the very same book on their audio page. And there was a "read by the author" note. And well, I had to have it both way. I just did.
Imagine if you will Natalie Babitt's Tuck Everlasting set in the English countryside where the end of a lane could be on the border with Fairyland. So rather than finding a family cursed by immortality, you find a family that is immortal for much older reasons.
Then put in a boy upset with the turn his life is taking. He's forced to move out of his room because his parents have taken on a lodger. He too is unsatisfied with life and his actions open a door that lets in dangerous magic.
This is one of those sly books that has an ordinary sounding beginning. It opens with the narrator returning to his childhood home and on a whim, visiting the neighbors at the end of the lane. He doesn't expect them to be there since the place has changed so much. But they are. And as they share their memories, the story evolves from something that sounds like a schmaltzy memoir to the sort of twisted, unexpected fantasy that Gaiman excels at.
Now imagine this story read in Gaiman's own quiet voice. It's like he's there sharing a pot of tea with you. The book becomes a conversation between friends.