The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Elise Hurst [Free, Gift]
This book is very Neil Gaiman-y, with perhaps a touch of the Terry Pratchetesque thrown in. Not too much Terry Pratchett, but perhaps some echoes of Granny Weatherwax here.
This is not a book I would read repeatedly, but it was an enjoyable distraction in the downtime between tournament softball games one Saturday.
What I have is a signed, hardback edition gifted to me by a co-worker, who had three signed copies, which was two more than he needed. (His wife likes Gaiman, he is indifferent). How does one accidentally end up with three signed copies? Well, he is an Englishman. So I assume they are given out as part of their socialist hellscape healthcare system, or somethingn like that.
I will heap praise on the illustrations of this edition. Elise Hurst’s pen and ink work is haunting, and adds to the experience greatly. I felt a little self conscious as some of the pages are borderline picture book status, but no one at the softball tournament noticed, I don’t think.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman [Little Shop of Stories]
There is an issue I have with some narration that I struggle to articulate. I want my third person narrator to be… Consistent? Clear as to what it is?
There is a line that (I feel) shouldn’t be crossed tentatively. Either the third person narrator is a character, or it is a neutral conduit for information. It throws me out of the story when the narration suddenly has a personality for the sake of making a joke, and then doesn’t.
The narration of Hill does that a couple times, and it bothers me more than it probably should. All in all, this is an okay slice of life novel about a single young woman in LA.
Perhaps the characters were not as outlandish as the book seemed to think they are. Maybe not a lot happens here. But for some reason I ploughed through the novel, and I have no regrets.
Perhaps a nice low impact story with a happy ending is want I was looking for these days.
As a side note, I feel like I’ve read a disproportionate number of books lately with characters who love books so much. Maybe that’s always been the way with books– authors usually like books, and write what you know, right?