Once in a while, I like to pick up a book to read that I've never heard anything about. I like to browse the library stacks, pulling off books and reading their dust jacket flaps until I find one that interests me. That's how I found this book. Yes, I've read things by Neil Gaiman before, but I'd never heard of this particular book of his. It looked and sounded interesting, so I checked it out and read it.
I'm not always a huge fan of magical realism. I mean, sometimes I am -- I'm an ardent devotee of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and the Harry Potter books. But a lot of times it doesn't work for me. Well, this is one of the times that it totally did. This is a short book, but so jam-packed with flavor and atmosphere I gobbled it up as quickly as I could.
The protagonist recalls things that happened when he was seven years old. He met some magic-wielding women who lived at the end of his lane, he accidentally let an evil being into the world, he dealt with the aftereffects of that evil being's presence, and he survived it getting cast out of this world again. Somewhere along the way, he grew up. A lot. But remained seven and still a little boy in many ways too.
Gaiman's descriptions and way of weaving magic in to the real world were astonishingly wonderful. I'm so glad I pulled this book off the shelf last week.
But despite the fact that the main character was seven when most of this happened, this is NOT junior fiction. Definitely YA. Please keep that in mind.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for scenes where a 7-yr-old witnesses two adults engaged in adult activity (not described explicitly, but what they're doing is very obvious), scary scenes, and suicide.