Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Neil Gaiman Secret


The postal service here in Britain is really a drag when you're waiting for books to turn up, especially when those books are ones you'd prefer to have right away. I do a lot of waiting for book-related things. I waited a year for The Hobbit to be released, I've waited more than a year for the third season of Sherlock, so I can wait until Monday for my new copies of Jane Eyre and Rebecca to turn up.

My first English Literature lesson on Friday was really great because not only were we told that we'd be studying Shakespeare's Othello, but also that we'd be focusing on the theme of 'jealousy' in our topic of Love Through The Ages. Rebecca will be a central book here, as will Wuthering Heights. Since reading that book it's been all I can really look forward to. Studying it will seem to lift a weight off my shoulders, it's one of those books you really just need to sit down and talk about in order for you to truly appreciate it.

So whilst waiting for my books to turn up, I wanted to dedicate my time to reading books that should have been finished a long time ago. For starters, I finished off the third book in the Wardstone Chronicles, The Spook's Secret.

These books are great, they really are. They're aimed at 9-12 year olds, so what? Joseph Delaney's writing doesn't get boring, complicated or repetitive. He keeps the pace up through-out the whole novel, feeding us clues now so we turn pages faster in an attempt to solve the mystery. Delaney understands his audience, and by doing this he's able to give them exactly what they want.

The third book was centered around the Spook's past life catching up with him. With a change of setting from the previous books, I was scared that it was going to lose it's brilliant sense of atmosphere. I was proved wrong, in fact it was enhanced. Set up in the Spook's winter house, there was almost a constant reminder of the snow and wind rattling against the window. Whenever a character went out in the snow you could feel the chill biting at their faces. There was never a time when the setting let Delaney down, and this is important because the setting brings a lot to these books.

The characters also please me. There are no wooden characters in sight, each one brings something unique and exciting to the plot line. Alice is a complete mystery and we're always guessing which way she'll turn, the Spook is intimidating yet soft at the core, Tom's Mother completely baffles us, we don't know her origins or her intentions. Though each book has a resolution at the end, there is a bigger picture which gives it perfect fluency as a series. 

I have the fourth book, The Spook's Battle currently in my possession, and though I'd like to read it, I forced myself to pick up a book which I either needed to return, to had something to do with Love. The former jumped at me,

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those books I am never going to forget. After my close friend read it for her birthday, she lend it to me with great reviews, saying it had the same tone as Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls. I hadn't read any Neil Gaiman before and I really didn't know what to expect, but everyone else I know had said his work was brilliant, and I was also a fan or his writing on Doctor Who.

It's a story about childhood, survival, remembrance, and about stepping outside of the ordinary and seeing things beyond reality. It follows the story of a young seven-year-old boy who takes a drive through his old neighbourhood, and finds the memories flooding back. What follows his the story of his friendship with a girl named Lettie, and of course, what happens concerning the Ocean (which is really a duckpond.)

There's not much I can say without spoiling the plot. The events that happen are so unrealistic and eccentric that I had to continuously flip back and forth to make sense of what was going on. But that took nothing away from the novel, in fact it made it more intriguing. You will be flicking through the pages right to the back cover, searching for your answers.

The characters are perfect, they're scary, lovable, wise. They reflect ever aspect of humanity possible and they felt so real that I didn't feel like I could pull myself away from the book to actually sleep for the night. Characters have always been a huge deal for me and so have characters as beautifully moulded as this, it was amazing. I felt like I was reading an updated version of a fairytale, but also like I was walking through a dream that didn't really make sense. You will get yourself lost inside this novel.

I can't compare it to other Neil Gaiman works because this is the first I've read of his, though after finishing it I'm keen to pick up more of his work. I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice, despite it's clear contrast to the gloomy Wuthering Heights. I'm also pretty sure that I'll be picking up Lolita soon, as well as The Reader. I only hope I can find a good copy of Othello that does Shakespeare's language justice.

Thanks for reading,
Rachel x


  1. I have heard quite allot about Spooks from one of my friends! Is it somewhat scary, or just an Adventure novel?

    1. It's a mixture of both. There's a different adventure/mystery in every novel but it's filled with witches and ghosts which are actually quite scary!