Some authors smack you upside the head with their stories, dragging you down the street (possibly kicking and screaming) until you finally give in and just read the damn book, because it is rather exciting, isn’t it, and you’re already on page 183, so you might as well finish it up.
Other authors politely wave hello, and sidle up to you saying, “There’s this wonderful story over here. I think you might like it,” and off you go with her and the book is lovely after all, and leaves you with a silly little grin on your face for the rest of the day.
And then there’s Neil Gaiman, who walks you down a quiet country lane that’s really very ordinary. Completely boring, in fact, if you ignore that odd fellow over there. It’s all so very normal when the whispers start and the birds are staring hungrily at you, you find that you’ve just spent hours gazing into a duck pond that dreams of being an ocean. Or wondering just who the Black Friars of Blackfriars Station on the London Underground are. Or how on earth you ever managed to travel anywhere without your tangerine.
But this is all normal of course, because deep down you always knew the monsters were there, and even deeper down you knew you knew how to beat them. And then you defeat the monsters and your life goes on in a left turn normal sort of way, and we do end up in a happily ever after, but it all seems to go on as a plain old ever after before it turns happy, because before it can become happy, you have to defeat the monsters and figure out just what sort of person you are. And that is not ordinary at all, but completely extraordinary instead.
Now go on, grab your tangerine, mind the gap, and read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s really a lovely story. I think you’ll like it very much.