This is a great book. I've been wishing for a long time that Audible would get it. I've read it over and over again through the years, and I'm happy to say that now I'll be able to listen to it over and over again because Bronson Pinchot does a wonderful job with the characters' voices.
I'm not sure that this is really a fantasy. It has swords and seems to have sorcery, but the magic gets explained in such a way that it seems to (almost) be advanced science. But it has the feel of fantasy. If Heinlein wrote this book today, the publisher would have insisted on a 20-book series, and I truly think our hero Oscar Gordon could have provided it to us.
Heinlein was born more than a hundred years ago, and attitudes toward male/female relations were different then. But just as we do not hold Shakespeare or Homer to 21st Century societal norms, so we must give Heinlein a pass here as well. He was trying.
I think that any young man who likes science fiction or fantasy will like this adventure story. And I think that women who can release their grip on modern feminism for the space of a few hours will like it as well.
Get this book.
This is the second book in what I hope will be a lengthy series. The plot in this book follows Charlie, who was a lesser character in "The Enchantment Emporium." I really like the idea that she works much of her magic through her music. The other character who takes a step forward in this book is Jack. I really liked him in "Enchantment" so I was glad to see him get more time onstage in this story. Many of the other characters from the previous book are back again too. The Aunties are busy making pies and annoying phone calls again. Even the magic mirror is back, handing out its usual enigmatic hints. And Alysha's Gran is once again lurking in the background, trying to manipulate everyone (for their own good, of course).
I'm happy to say that I liked Erin Moon's narration better than the narrator for "Enchantment". She made no attempt at Irish or Chinese accents, but she did a much better job with everything else.
If you like urban fantasy, I think you'll enjoy this one. A lot.
Robin McKinley's protagonists are usually young women. In this book the main character is a teenage boy. That boy is telling his story in the first person, and it is a story which he finds hard to tell. So in the beginning the story seems rough, clumsily written. This is not a sign that Robin McKinley is a poor writer. It's an indicator that she is a masterful writer, and she is telling the story not in her own voice, but in the voice of that inexperienced young man.
And it is a wonderful story.
In much science fiction and fantasy, the aliens or talking creatures simply seem like humans in funny looking costumes. But the dragons in this story truly seem alien in their being. Their thoughts and attitudes are not human. Their point of view is not human. And they don't find it any easier to understand humans than humans can understand them.
If you have read her most popular books (The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, etc.), please don't go into this one expecting more of the same or you may be disappointed. This book is fairly different from most of her books. It needs to be taken on its own. But if you can leave all your preconceptions at the door, I think you will find this a story well worth reading.
A word about the narrator. I think his voice fits the main character admirably. He did a good job.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane feels like none of Gaiman’s previous novels. It’s easily the most personal of his novels, tightly focused, and brief – like childhood remembered by an adult. It’s a story of memories as tangible as the sea – we know they happened, we even swam in it, but the waves continue to roll, and the landscape is seemingly ever changing. It’s memories as mythology, and it’d be cynical not to fall under it’s haunting spell.
It’s also a meditation on mortality, as told by a nameless narrator who has returned to England for his father’s funeral. Because of that, it’s impossible not to divorce our image of the narrator as Neil himself, giving this book a fantastical yet autobiographical sense – even moreso as an audiobook – which is part of the point. Readers and fans familiar with Gaiman via Twitter and his blog may remember reading about similar familiar events referenced in this book, although their memories will be distinctly different from what occurs in the story.
As one character says: “That’s the trouble with living things. Don’t last very long. Kittens on day, old cats next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together.”
Memories should be cherished and treasured, like dreams, but perhaps they shouldn’t be completely trusted. And it’s what we do with those memories that count.
In spinning this story, Gaiman has woven himself into a new mythology all his own. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a reminder to adults of the wonders and mysteries of childhood, and encourages us to find those same pleasures as adults. It reminds us that just because we’re grown up, doesn’t mean it’s over, and we may still witness wondrous and mysterious things.