The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman I've been a large fan of Gaiman since Sandman, so unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to separate my expectations from a serious review of this novel; still, I'll try.

I'm always struck by the solid blending of down-to-earth real-people and situations that are truly magical, never cookie-cutter. The mundane and the magical has never been soft and gentle when they collide. It may be due to the fact that our author always has always used a kid-glove approach to handling the reader, preferring gentle touches and caresses, even when discussing having your heart torn out or discovering a mangled mess of what used to be a man. Toast, even burnt toast, can act as a salve to soothe the ruffled nerves of death, whether in the flashback of the main novel or the funeral at the present time.
It's curious how well it works, and we are left, as readers, in awe that such a writer can pull off this event so carefully that no one thinks twice of it. It is natural, just as all magic is natural. You don't have to be a kid to understand this, either, but for the uninitiated, age 7 can do wonders for any reader's mindset.

The novel isn't huge, the stakes are only large by implication, and the consequences are all intensely personal. The main character, we might be tempted to say, is not our narrator. The main character is the cat; again, ever so gently done. :) Faith, wisdom, magic and the fabric of reality are all given center stage, as are the natures of sacrifice, family, memory, and a bit of the aes sidhe.

Impressively done, wrapped in a package so well written. :)