Watching Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere series and his Doctor Who episodes, and reading Stardust was enough to convince me that I need to read more of his books. Since I'd read a lot about this one on this community, I decided to give it a go.
The story is set in the narrator's childhood and involves a girl called Letitia, who tells him that her garden pond is actually an ocean. The plot of the book is a bit hard to explain, except that it becomes increasingly bizarre. It is also incredibly dark and twisted throughout, and it was no more than I expected from Neil Gaiman.
At the start of the main storyline, the narrator is at his seventh birthday party, which no one came to. He gets a kitten for his birthday, which is then killed accidentally. The early chapters also include the suicide of the man who killed the kitten, immediately giving the story a very grim tone overall.
The rest of the story involves a mysterious (and, as it turns out, evil) childminder called Ursula, and the narrator's friendship with Letitia, who seems almost like a fairy godmother. The story also includes bizarre creatures that seem to be made of canvas, and a wormhole appearing in a narrator's foot. The character of Ursula is particularly scary, and seems to have some sort of hold on the narrator's father. There was one particularly shocking chapter where the father attempts to drown his son in the bathroom.
Overall, the book felt like a very dark fairy tale, but full of horror elements, and although it was about a seven year old boy, I could tell it was not a children's book. The storyline felt like it could have been taken out of childhood dreams and nightmares, as it became increasingly surreal throughout.
I was surprised at how quickly I got through the story, and although some of it left me puzzled I decided it was best not to question what was happening and go along with the ride wherever it took me. Overall, I would recommend this book.
Next book: The First Easter (retold by Sally Ann Wright)