The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
By Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow, $26)

Unhappy childhoods are the stuff of many a great literary work, and in Neil Gaiman’s deeply personal novel, a defeated man recalls his troubled youth and the magical, sometimes terrifying adventures that changed him forever. Enveloping the reader in melancholy and wonder, this tome mines familiar Gaiman terrain — the pas de deux between reality and the mythic; the power of storytelling itself; the delicate balance between reverie and fact — but in a palette more cobalt. It is thrilling, sometimes frightening and profoundly moving.