Posts tagged ‘Fantasy’

June 18, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Neil Gaiman

by Andre

Neil Gaiman THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANEA charming, flame-haired US singer and her daughter were here in the Riverside Bookshop the other day asking about the new Neil Gaiman (the book finally arrived today). We hope they come back, although we suspect the kindly Mr Gaiman will send them a copy seeing as the book’s acknowledgements include a thank you to his famous friend for lending him a house to write it in. And as the singer’s daughter is Gaiman’s goddaughter, she probably deserves the £250 deluxe version.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not really for children though – in fact, it’s Gaiman’s first adult novel in eight years. Seeking solitude after a family funeral, the unnamed narrator wanders the Hempstock farm at the end of the country lane where he grew up. Sitting by the duck pond he remembers that once it was actually an ocean – and then he remembers everything. He’s transported back 40 years to an event that somehow unleashes an otherworldly, almost Lovecraftian evil into the Sussex countryside. The primal horror arrives in the form of a malevolent Mary Poppins, a housekeeper from another dimension who seems to know the boy’s every move. Fortunately, Lettie Hempstock and her family in the old farmhouse possess some ancient powers of their own. Lettie’s 11 but the boy thinks she may have been 11 for a very long time.

Gaiman has surpassed himself with limpid, elegiac prose that conveys the secret world of a seven-year-old. There’s beautiful writing about the pleasures of childhood such as tucking into oozing honeycomb doused in cream from a chipped saucer or losing yourself in books (‘Why didn’t adults want to read about Narnia, about secret islands and smugglers and dangerous fairies?’). It also touches on adult themes of art, loss and (unreliable) memory and, like Lettie’s duck pond, it’s deeper and darker than the slim volume might suggest. We may have forgotten what it’s like to be seven years old in a world of capricious grown-ups but Neil Gaiman has remembered for us in this melancholy and moving adult fairy tale. It may be the best book he’s written.

August 10, 2012

George R. R. Martin: A Game of Thrones series

by Monika

There are epic fantasy stories, and then there are EPIC fantasy stories, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin falls in the latter.  Set in the vastness of Westeros and Essos, we embark on a journey of brutal battles and political intrigue as the protagonists vie for survival, power and revenge.  We are introduced to a myriad of characters, who develop as we delve deeper into the story, we grow to love some and despise others.  In what has become a trademark for this series, death features prominently amongst the main characters, good and bad, so that we can never rest on our laurels thinking that the heroes shall vanquish the villains as convention demands.

The series is as yet unfinished, with two more novels to come before the conclusion is reached, but the five will leave you gripped and wanting more.

Valar Morghulis!

October 22, 2011

His Dark Materials: Philip Pullman

by Team Riverside

Hardly a hot new release, and certainly not something that could have been easily missed in the last 15 or so years, but attention must be drawn to an all new Everyman Classic Library edition of everyone’s favourite bestselling atheist-minded fantasy kids epic.

Like everything produced by the Everyman Classic Library it’s a handsome, perfectly proportioned thing, with stitched binding and sewn in bookmark, a special introduction and all the other lovely touches that Everyman do to make their books so covetable.  But more exciting than any of that is the price: The Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, all wrapped up nicely, for the ludicrously low price of £15.  Too shocking.