William Morrow, 192 pages, $25
In a rural area of Sussex, England, a dark shadow has fallen. Initially it boded surprising riches, but then the tide turned, so to speak. The boy’s family, with the exception of the boy himself, is beguiled by a mysterious force, brought upon our world by the boy himself.
With the help of the family who lives at the end of the lane, 11-year-old Lettie Hempstock, her mother Ginny Hempstock, and Old Lady Hempstock, the boy is drawn into an ancient fight and a dimension of wonders.
As with other Gaiman books, there is a sweetness to it. There should never be any doubt that good will triumph over evil, and that’s the comfort Gaiman offers. Most of the time The Ocean at the End of the Lane feels like a kid’s book, but I’d say it would have to be a pretty mature kid, because there’s a joyless oblique sex scene and an ugly corpse.