Three Dark Crowns

I don’t know quite where to begin. I finished reading Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake a few hours ago, and I’m still processing what happened in this book, particularly the batcrap crazy ending. (I mean that in the best way.) This book is convoluted and vicious–perfect for fans of Kiersten White’s And I Darken and Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes–and I can hardly wait for more.

On the mysterious island of Fennbirn, three sisters–triplets–vie to be the last queen standing. Separated at an early age, the girls grow up knowing that they may one day have to kill their sisters in order to claim the crown. Each queen is supposed to be endowed with her own special brand of magic, and the strength of that magic could lead one of the young women to rule.

Katharine is a poisoner. She should be able to ingest even the most dangerous poison with no consequences. She can craft poisons with the best of them, but she cannot yet consume toxins without being violently ill. If her gift does not arrive soon–before Beltane–she fears that her quest for the throne will be short-lived.

Arsinoe is in a similar situation. She is a naturalist, but she cannot yet control even the smallest portion of the natural world around her, and there is no sign of her animal familiar on the horizon. Her companion, Jules, a powerful naturalist in her own right, has been trying to coax Arsinoe’s gift out of hiding, but the only magic Arsinoe experiences–dangerous spells performed with her own blood–may come with a cost more dire than she realizes.

Mirabella is widely considered to be the front-runner for the crown. She is a powerful elemental, and she has been controlling wind, fire, water, and earth for years. But Mirabella wonders if she’s truly capable of killing her sisters when the time comes. She remembers with fondness their lives before they were separated, and her unwillingness to do her sisters harm is viewed as weakness by those in power. Her path to the throne may seem clear, but her own feelings may cloud the way.

Each of these three sisters are attempting to figure out where they stand in Fennbirn, but they are running out of time to come to terms with their destinies. Their quests for the crown truly begin at the upcoming Beltane celebration. After that, two of them must die so that one can be queen. Add in questions about their gifts, power struggles from without and within, suitors vying for their hands, betrayal, and their own often conflicted feelings, and something has to give.

Will Katharine and Arsinoe receive their gifts before Beltane? If not, can they make others believe they are fit to be queen? Is Mirabella truly the most powerful of the three and destined to be the sole queen? Or does fate have something else in store for these sisters and those who would see them killed or crowned?


I’ve left out A LOT here, but I didn’t want to give too much away. I will say, however, that it’s difficult to determine which of the sisters–if any–should truly be queen. I felt sympathy with each of them at different points, but I can’t say that I was really rooting for any of them. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really like the sisters throughout much of the book. Jules, Arsinoe’s companion, was probably the only character in the book that I 100% liked. That’s okay, though. I think my conflicted feelings on these characters are exactly what the author intended. Nothing is clear cut in this book, and that makes things very intriguing.

For those wondering if Three Dark Crowns is a good fit for middle grade readers, I have to say…I’m not sure. It is brutal, and there are some sexy times (which are kind of understated). Some middle grade readers may be able to handle it; others won’t. I would probably recommend this book to grades 8 and up, but I urge you to read the book for yourself if you work with tweens and young teens. You know your readers better than I do.

The next book in this series, One Dark Throne, comes out on September 19th. There will also be a prequel novella, The Young Queens, released on December 26th. Lots to look forward to in this exciting series!

For more information on Three Dark Crowns, visit author Kendare Blake’s website or connect with her on Twitter. You may also want to check out the awesome book trailer from Epic Reads below. Enjoy!

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Lord of Shadows

It’s a special day here at Knight Reader. Today, I celebrate my 827th post and my 9th year as a blogger. That’s right. Today is Knight Reader’s 9th blogoversary. That may not mean much to most people, but it’s kind of a big deal to me, especially considering that I think about hanging it up at least once a week.

Knight Reader has seen me through good times and bad: the births of my nieces, health scares, loss of friends and family, and the transition from a high school to an elementary school librarian. It’s been a constant, and, despite my sometimes conflicted feelings on keeping it going, it will likely remain a constant in my life. As long as people keep reading what I care to write, I’ll do my best to keep this blog around.


So…9 years. It seems fitting that my post today focuses on one of my absolute favorite authors/worlds. The second post I ever wrote was about how awesome Cassandra Clare was, and today’s post, my 827th, focuses on Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the second book of The Dark Artifices. As you may know, this series continues to explore the world of Shadowhunters, fierce warriors with angelic blood. There are many, many stories that precede this one, and I’ve listed those below (with available reviews) if you’d care to catch up. (Note: Feel free to completely ignore the movie and TV adaptations of these books. They are crap.)

Now, let’s move onto Lord of Shadows. If you’re not caught up, the rest of this post may be a bit spoilery, so be prepared.

Life is never exactly easy for Shadowhunters, but it appears to be especially difficult right now for those who live in the Los Angeles Institute. They thought they knew Malcolm Fade, warlock extraordinaire. They though they could trust him. They counted him as a friend. And he betrayed them. All this time, he was working against them, killing to further his own agenda. Now, Malcolm is dead, and this tight-knit group of Shadowhunters is dealing with the fallout.

Emma Carstairs is the fierce Shadowhunter who killed Malcolm Fade. She did what she had to do, and she’d do it again to protect those she loves, particularly the Blackthorn family. This family, especially her parabatai Julian, means everything to her, and she’ll do whatever is necessary to keep them safe…even if it means sacrificing her wants, her needs, her very life. At present, it means driving a wedge between herself and Julian. She knows that romantic love between parabatai is cursed, and she simply can’t put Julian, the backbone of his family, through something so horrific, no matter how much they might love each other.

As for Julian, he is tormented by his feelings for Emma, the distance she’s putting between them, as well as the all-consuming need to keep his family safe. Safe from the increasing number of sea demons around them, safe from the Centurions who’ve all but invaded the Institute, safe from the knowledge that their Uncle Arthur, the official head of the Institute, is going mad and Julian’s been running things since he was a boy of twelve. It’s a lot for Julian to take in, but he’ll do anything for his family…even something like journey into Faerieland, something expressly forbidden by the Clave (Shadowhunters’ governing body).

Mark Blackthorn, Julian’s half-faerie brother, has received news that his former lover, Kieran, is about to be killed by the Unseelie King (who also happens to be Kieran’s father). Mark is determined to rescue Kieran, but he will not make the journey alone. Julian, Emma, and Christina, a trusted friend, accompany him, and the quest is just as fraught with danger as they feared it would be. With the help of the Seelie Court, they make it out alive, but they’ve made a dangerous enemy in the Unseelie King…and a dangerous ally in the Seelie Queen.

Back home at the Los Angeles Institute, those remaining are dealing with their own fight. Certain members of the Centurion force are poised to take over the Institute in an effort to further their own hateful agenda. This band of zealots wants to exert power over all Downworlders, and they think taking down the Blackthorn family is the way to do it. While this extremist group, known as the Cohort, is plotting, the Institute residents are also dealing with the unexpected return of a figure they thought was gone…Malcolm Fade himself.

As it turns out, it’s pretty difficult to kill a warlock, and Malcolm isn’t as dead as they had hoped. He’s returned, bringing an army of demons with him, and he remains determined to complete what he was trying to do before his untimely demise. With the help of the Black Volume, he plans to raise Annabell Blackthorn from the dead, and he won’t let anything get in his way. Annabell, however, may have other ideas.

Forced to flee the LA Institute, the younger Blackthorn siblings, Kit Herondale, and their tutor portal to the London Institute. There, they eventually join up with Emma, Julian, Mark, Christina, and Kieran (along with a couple of other familiar faces). They’re dealing with enemies on many sides, but they know they must prevail. They may have to make deals that are untenable, fight those who seem to be unbeatable, and put aside their own complicated feelings. The important thing is that they stay alive, put an end to the dangerous sentiments against Downworlders, and avoid war with the Unseelie King. Unfortunately, all of those things are easier said that done.


I’m going to stop there before I give too much more away. I’ve probably spoiled a lot here, but there is so much more to this book than I could have possibly touched on in one blog post (unless I wanted to spend the rest of the day writing…which I don’t). Lord of Shadows is a 700-page whopper, and every page is packed with something important, exciting, mysterious, infuriating, revealing, and, at points, tragic. The stuff I’ve touched on above is only a fraction of the wonderfully twisted story contained within this book.

Anyone who reads Lord of Shadows (or any of the Shadowhunter books, really) will find parallels to the world we live in today. No, we’re not dealing with demons, warlocks, faeries, or anything like that–that I know of–but we are dealing with discrimination and hatred of anything seen as different or “other.” In this book, a small but vocal group of extremists want warlocks to register, werewolves to be rounded up and put in camps, vampires to have their blood supply monitored, and faeries, for the most part, to be completely wiped out. The Shadowhunters who sympathize with Downworlders are viewed as traitors. Sound familiar? Once again, fantasy shines a light on the horrific reality we’re facing today and gives a glimpse of the destruction we could see if we allow such hatred to flourish. It’s sobering, to say the least.

So…where do we go from Lord of Shadows? The third book of The Dark Artifices, The Queen of Air and Darkness, isn’t expected to be released until sometime in 2019. Given how Lord of Shadows ended, the wait for book three may very well drive me insane.

On a positive note, there is another Shadowhunter series being introduced a bit sooner. Chain of Gold, the first book of The Last Hours, should be out in 2018. This series is set in 1903, and it centers around the generation following the events of The Infernal Devices series. There’s also an adult series focusing on Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, The Eldest Curses, on the horizon, as well as another YA series, The Wicked Powers, that will pick up at the end of The Dark Artifices. I know it’s a lot to take in, but this is nothing but good news if you’re a superfan of the Shadowhunter books.

For more information on Lord of Shadows and all things Shadowhunter, visit Cassie Clare’s website, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’re not a fan already, I hope you come to love this world as much as I do!

Bayou Magic

As I continue making my way through the nominees for the 2017-18 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, I have to commend the SCCBA committee on this list. I’ve read sixteen of the twenty titles so far, and there’s not a stinker in the bunch. Even the book with the dog on the cover–something that I usually avoid–is good. Many of my young readers will have a tough time choosing their favorite nominee when we vote in February. (Click here if you’d like to see a promo video for the SCCBA titles.)

I tell you all of that to introduce my latest read, another SCCBA nominee, Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This book is a spell-binding, compelling read that takes place in the Louisiana bayou in the summer of 2010, right around the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The story revolves around Maddy, a young girl learning about her heritage, what it means to be a friend, and the magic that lives within her.

Like her older sisters before her, Maddy is spending the summer with her grandmother in Bayou Bon Temps. There will be no phones, no Internet, no television, no air conditioning. Just Maddy, her grandmère, and a rather simple life on the bayou. Maddy soon learns, however, that her summer here will be anything but simple.

Grandmère sees something in Maddy that her sisters didn’t possess. Maddy has a love for the bayou, its mysteries, and its people. She’s in touch with the magic of her ancestors, those who traveled from Africa in the most horrible of circumstances.

Grandmère teaches Maddy to read the signs around her, and soon Maddy can call fireflies, sense when danger is coming, and perhaps even communicate with an ancient mermaid. Maddy is the only one who can see this strange being, known as Mami Wata, so can she possibly be real? Both Grandmère and Maddy’s new best friend, Bear, seem to think so. Sometimes a person just needs to have a bit of faith.

As Maddy becomes more sure of her newfound abilities, she realizes that something bad is headed for the bayou. She can’t stop the event–a catastrophic oil spill–from happening, but maybe she can do something about the impact of the spill on the bayou.

Calling on her mermaid friend, Mami Wata, Maddy uses her magical heritage and everything Grandmère has taught her to protect Bayou Bon Temps and all who call it home. Will it be enough? Will this disaster touch this place and its people in some other way? Whatever happens, can Maddy be a true friend and hero in both good times and bad?


Bayou Magic is an enthralling book that showcases the beauty of a simple life, exploring nature with friends, finding solace in silence, and getting to know the people and environment around you. (I must admit that I’m okay with the silence part, but I’m usually not one for getting to know nature or other people. Also, I’d probably go crazy without WiFi.) It also emphasizes spending time with elders, learning from them, and respecting one’s cultural traditions.

If I have one issue with this book, it’s that the ending feels a little rushed. Maddy’s journey back home from her bayou summer is rather abrupt. I’d like to know more about what happens between the book’s major culminating event and Maddy’s trip back to New Orleans. All in all, though, that’s a rather minor complaint for what is otherwise an excellent book.

Bayou Magic is a wonderful work of magical realism, but this story is also about courage, friendship, family, faith, protecting the environment, and honoring one’s culture. All of these things combine to make a truly magical book. I hope my students agree.

Bayou Magic is a great fit for upper elementary and middle grade readers. It’s accessible and easy-to-read, and it features a dynamic African-American protagonist, something we need much more of in children’s literature.

If you’d like more information on Bayou Magic or other works by Jewell Parker Rhodes, please visit her website, Facebook, or Twitter. You may also want to check out the awesome book trailer for Bayou Magic below. Enjoy!

Cursed

As some may have noticed, May has been a slow month here at Knight Reader. This is only my fourth post this month, and I typically do much better than that. My fellow educators, though, can probably figure out why this month has been “off.” In short, May is nuts. With testing, meetings, end-of-year reports, the general craziness of both students and staff, and so much other stuff going on, I’ve barely even felt like reading, much less blogging about it. (Believe it or not, this site takes a lot of energy to maintain.)

I’m hoping, however, that things will pick up soon. You see, this is the last full week of school in my district! (*Cue dance of joy.*) I’ll still have trainings, meetings, and other school stuff to do, but I also plan to devote more time to my family, my friends, and my reading. So don’t despair, dear readers. Knight Reader isn’t going anywhere yet.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s turn to my latest read, which brought it’s own set of aggravations. It was a good book (and it should be given that it’s a 17-18 South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominee), but, like a lot of readers, I get bothered when covers and titles change. This book, Cursed by Bruce Coville, was originally published as Diary of a Mad Brownie. It’s also known as The Enchanted Files #1. The cover was also completely redesigned (see below). I get that there are reasons for this, but it is a little jarring and confusing to readers. That being said, I did like the book, and I think many upper elementary and middle grade readers will as well.


Angus Cairns is a brownie–no, not a fudgy treat or a Girl Scout. He’s a wee magical creature who likes to do a bit of mischief while keeping things neat and tidy for the family he serves. For Angus, though, there’s not exactly a choice in which family he’s tied to.

Thanks to a curse, Angus is bound to serve the McGonagall family. It hasn’t been a bad life. He’s been with Sarah McGonagall for years, and he’s loved living with her in Scotland. As Sarah gets older, however, Angus realizes that he’ll soon have to move on to another McGonagall descendant. This move will take him from his beloved Scotland to the strange and mysterious land of America…and the household of the messiest girl he’s ever encountered.

When Angus arrives at the Carhart househould, he’s not sure what to make of the situation. To be sure, things are a mess, and he’ll have his work cut out for him just keeping Alex, his new assignment, in order. Alex, for her part, doesn’t help matters. She seems to enjoy being a slob, and it drives Angus bananas! Things do eventually improve when Angus reveals himself to Alex, but a whole new set of problems arrives to upset their delicate balance.

The curse that binds Angus to the McGonagall family also has another part. It causes all of the men in the house where Angus resides to become obsessed with writing bad poetry. This has a huge impact on Alex’s dad, who quits his job to write songs, and her brother, who starts wearing all black and talks about leaving the soccer team. There’s only one thing to be done before this family loses everything–Angus must find a way to break this wretched curse.

Well, breaking a centuries-old curse may be easier said than done, but Angus and Alex are not alone. They are joined by Alex’s little sister, Destiny, her brother, and, perhaps strangest of all, Destiny’s kindergarten teacher. All of these people will work together, journey through the Enchanted Realm, and uncover some interesting secrets in their quest to break the curse that binds them. But what then? What could the end of this curse mean for Angus and Alex? Answer these questions and many more when you read Cursed by Bruce Coville.


Readers who love books in diary format will definitely enjoy this book. It’s also a good fit for fans of light fantasy. It’s funny, sometimes suspenseful, and thoroughly captivating. Many readers may relate to both Alex’s disorganized manner and Angus’ short temper. I’m hoping they’ll also see how these two sorted out their differences and became stronger as a result.

Given that Cursed is the first book in The Enchanted Files, you may be wondering about the next installment. Well, as of right now, there is one more book, Hatched. It’s already out, and it presents the tale of Gerald the Griffin. It looks fairly interesting, and I’m certain I’ll be placing it on my next school book order.

To learn more about Cursed, The Enchanted Files #1, Diary of a Mad Brownie, or whatever you want to call this book, visit author Bruce Coville’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Enjoy!

The Queen of Oz

I’m one step closer to the end of Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series. I’ve just finished the final prequel novella, The Queen of Oz, and I’ll soon start reading the final full-length novel, The End of Oz. If you haven’t read all of the stories up to this point, you may want to turn back until you’ve caught up.

(While it’s not absolutely necessary to read all of the prequel novellas to get what’s going on in the novels, it does help tremendously. They add tons of context to what’s happening in Oz.)

Here are all of the stories in this series thus far:

Now let’s move on to The Queen of Oz

In this final novella, we learn more about Mombi’s origins and her connection to Ozma, the rightful ruler of Oz. Mombi wasn’t always the powerful witch we’ve come to know throughout the course of this series. As a matter of fact, she didn’t have much power at all…at first.

While a young witch, Mombi asks Glinda (who is actually quite horrible) to teach her everything she knows, but it doesn’t take long for Mombi to realize that Glinda isn’t about to teach anyone to be as powerful as she is. So Mombi strikes out on her own, and she’s soon given a very important task by Lurline, the fairy who founded Oz.

One day, a visitor arrives at Mombi’s home deep in the woods. It’s the Wizard, and he’s carrying a peculiar little bundle. He claims that the baby in his arms is his niece, and he charges Mombi with protecting the child until he can return for her.

Thanks to a dream encounter with Lurline, Mombi knows the truth about this child and has been preparing for the task before her. She knows this child is Ozma, the true heir to the throne of Oz, and it’s up to Mombi to protect her. There’s only one thing to do. She must use all the magic she’s learned to transform Ozma into something–no, someone–else. She doesn’t plan on Pete, though.

Pete has spent his entire life sequestered with Mombi. The old witch doesn’t seem to like him very much, but she’s still oddly protective of him. Pete does what he can to find momentary reprieve from his life with Mombi, and he dreams of a life of excitement and adventure. Eventually, those dreams and an encounter with an intriguing Munchkin drive Pete to find the Wizard in the hopes of being completely free of Mombi and her magic.

Pete couldn’t know, however, that someone was watching for him…someone far more dangerous than Mombi. Someone whose name rhymes with Blinda who wants to unlock the magic within Pete for her own nefarious purposes. With Glinda’s “help,” Ozma is finally returned to Oz, but she may not be quite as easy to control as the “Good Witch” would hope.


I’ve given way too much away here, and I apologize for that. There’s still a good bit to the story, so read for yourself to uncover the rest. Also, if you didn’t already know the connection between Ozma and Pete, you really have a lot of reading to do.

I’ll soon turn my attention to The End of Oz, the final installment in the Dorothy Must Die series. I have a few other books to finish first, but I’m hoping to get to this book by the end of April. Part of me is putting it off so that I can keep my enjoyment of the series going as long as possible. Another part really wants to see how things play out, especially as it concerns Glinda and Dorothy getting what’s coming to them. Stick with me here, and I’ll post my thoughts as soon as I finish the last book in this gripping series.

For more information on the entire Dorothy Must Die series and Danielle Paige, connect with the author on her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Circus Mirandus

I’ve never been a big fan of the circus. I think I went once when I was a kid, and I was so freaked out by the clowns that I never thought to go back. If, however, there had been a whisper of something like Circus Mirandus during my childhood, I may have changed my tune.

As you’ve gathered by now, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley is my latest read. It’s a nominee for the 17-18 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, and it’s simply magical. This book is perfect for readers who enjoy Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, and pretty much everything by Roald Dahl.

Micah Tuttle has grown up with his Grandpa Ephraim’s stories of Circus Mirandus, a magical circus that has to be believed to be seen. Micah believes. He believes in Bibi, the invisible tiger that guards the circus; the Amazing Amazonian Birdwoman, who flies and commands an enormous flock of birds; Big Jean, the smartest elephant ever; and, most importantly, the Man Who Bends Light, or the Lightbender, an extraordinarily powerful magician. Micah knows that all of it really exists, and he’d dearly love to see it someday, preferably with his beloved grandfather by his side.

Unfortunately, Grandpa Ephraim’s health is failing. Micah knows even telling stories about Circus Mirandus would make him feel better, but Aunt Gertrudis, Ephraim’s vile, mean-spirited sister isn’t having it. She thinks Ephraim’s stories are nonsense, and she does everything she can to keep Micah from seeing his grandfather and talking about the circus they both hold dear.

But Aunt Gertrudis may not have much choice in the matter. Circus Mirandus is real, and the Lightbender owes Grandpa Ephraim a miracle. Micah just knows that this miracle can save his grandfather’s life, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that Grandpa Ephraim gets what he needs. Micah is joined in his efforts by his new friend, Jenny, a girl who doesn’t exactly believe Micah’s tales of the circus. She simply wants to help Micah.

Micah and Jenny set off to find Circus Mirandus and bring the Lightbender back to Grandpa Ephraim. The two find the circus, and it’s more magical than either of them could have ever thought. Micah is enchanted by it, much like his grandfather was years ago, and he knows something this wonderful surely has the power to save Grandpa Ephraim. But it may not be so easy.

The Lightbender seems hesitant to honor Ephraim’s requested miracle, and Micah doesn’t know why. He’s disheartened, but he soon learns a shocking family secret that may explain why the Lightbender is reluctant to fulfill his promise. Will that stop Micah from doing everything he can to help his grandfather, though? Absolutely not.

Will the Lightbender perform the miracle Grandpa Ephraim requested? Will Micah’s grandfather become healthy again so that Micah doesn’t have to live with his horrible Aunt Gertrudis? Or does destiny, and the Circus Mirandus, have something else in store for Micah’s future?


I know I’ve given too much away in this post, but once I got going, I didn’t want to stop. To be honest, I could write a lot more about this book. It’s poignant and spellbinding, and it calls to the reader’s imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope my students feel the same way.

I think this book is great for readers in upper elementary and middle grades. Readers as young as third grade will find something to love in this book–and even something to despise. Aunt Gertrudis is truly awful. For those Harry Potter fans out there, she’s almost as bad as Dolores Umbridge.

Circus Mirandus is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever wanted to run away and join the circus. Even if that’s never appealed to you, the book is excellent for readers who believe that there’s magic in the world. We really just have to open our eyes and be willing to see it.

For more information on Circus Mirandus, visit author Cassie Beasley’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

A word to the wise: Don’t stay up late reading a Neil Gaiman book and expect to get any sleep. I’m dragging today after finishing The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but it was worth it.

If you’re at all familiar with Gaiman’s work, you probably already know that this book, like so many of his others, is creepy, magical, strange, and thought-provoking. It’s written for an adult audience, but there’s something childlike about it as well. It explores the fears of a young boy and how he views the terrifying world around him. Did everything happen just as he remembers? We don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. In my opinion, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, while delving into one man’s memories of his childhood, also explores the themes of hope, facing one’s fears, accepting help, and believing in magic.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins with a man returning to his hometown for a funeral. In an effort to escape all of the condolences being offered, he decides to explore the area once so familiar to him. He goes past where his childhood home once stood and makes his way to the lane leading to the Hempstock farm. It is here that he begins to remember the events that took place when he was just seven years old.

When he was seven, he met Lettie Hempstock, a girl who seemed larger than life and who believed that the pond at the end of the lane was an ocean. Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother were all wise, magical, mysterious, and somehow timeless. They knew things that no normal person possibly could. The boy didn’t know quite what to make of these ladies, but he intrinsically trusted them.

Following the death of an opal miner, a strange darkness entered the world. The boy looked to Lettie Hempstock to beat the darkness back, but it somehow found a way into his life–into his very body.

The seemingly impossible events that followed shook the boy to his core and terrified him completely. The darkness that plagued him took human form and threatened every aspect of the boy’s life, even the sense of safety he should have felt in his own home, with his own family. How could he possibly fight something that scared him so deeply? Where could he look to for help?

Only the Hempstock family had the power and knowledge to help the boy. But how? What could these women possibly do to rid his world of this ancient evil? What would have to be sacrificed to save his life? And would that sacrifice ultimately be worth it?


I’m still pondering some of the mysteries in this book. Gaiman, a master storyteller, doesn’t give readers all of the answers. Some things are left to our imaginations (which is awesome).

A few unanswered questions:

  • What is the main character’s name? We never know his name or the names of his family members. Only the Hempstock ladies and a couple of other memorable characters are named outright.
  • Who died and precipitated the main character’s visit home? We know it’s not his sister, as it’s mentioned that she’s waiting on her brother. Is it his mom? His dad? Who led him home?
  • What’s the deal with the Hempstocks? Are they three incarnations of the same person? Perhaps some version of the Triple Goddess–the Crone, the Mother, and the Maiden? I honestly don’t know, but this seems the most plausible explanation given the events of the book and what we learn about this family.
  • Why does it take revisiting the “ocean” to jump-start the main character’s memories? One would think something so traumatic would have been impossible to forget. Also, what exactly is this ocean? Where did it come from, and what’s the source of its power?
  • Did the events he remembered really happen? Were they the imaginings of a child to cope with something he couldn’t understand? Or is it the adult who forgets in order to cope with something that should have been impossible? How does the man as an adult explain what happened?

Maybe you’ve figured out the answers to all of these questions. Maybe not. As for me, I’ll be thinking about these things–and a few more–for a while.

Like I mentioned before, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is written for an adult audience, but some teens may enjoy it (particularly if they’re already Neil Gaiman fans). It’s deep, intense, and it does play with your mind a bit, but give it a whirl if that’s your kind of thing.

For more information on this book and others by Neil Gaiman, check out the author’s website.