With over forty titles in his bibliography (which seems to be still growing), Neil Gaiman was a staple of my childhood and is one of, if not at the top of, my favorite authors. And with the recent success of the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman, I re-read some of his classics and books that I still love to this day. If you were just watching The Sandman and want to read more of Gaiman’s work and explore his little worlds, then you’ve come to the right place!
The ocean at the end of the alley
Released 2013, The ocean at the end of the alley is as intriguing and captivating as its title sounds. Told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, Gaiman explores the concepts of our unreliable memories and childhood innocence – all laced with fantastical elements, of course. The story essentially follows the unnamed narrator, who returns to his old hometown for a funeral and finds himself, once again, fascinated, as in his youth, by a farm that stood down a street where he once met a girl named Lettie Hempstock , who claimed the pond by her house was actually an ocean. As he stands by this pond, he finds that his memory has changed and the past he once seemed to have forgotten comes back to him.
The Hempstock name may sound familiar to you if you’ve read some of Gaiman’s other works (some of which are also included in this list), as the family has made numerous appearances in his books. If not, well, ocean is the perfect read for someone trying to find either a nice first book to get their work started, or a story to get them out of a reading slump. (It’s less than 200 pages long.)
Where do I begin Good omens? First published in 1990 and co-written by the late Terry Pratchett (RIP), Good omens‘ full title is actually Good Omens: The Beautiful and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and is a hilarious account of the coming of the end of days. The story follows Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon) and the strange friendship they have forged over millennia, along with the equally surprising and strange way they live among humans. At one point, the forces of evil inform Crowley of their greatest and most important plan to finally win their war against good, aka Heaven: the birth of the Antichrist, literally tasking Crowley with doing it deliver The baby is meant to signal the apocalypse, only for there to be a mix-up in the hospital (unknown to him).
The novel mainly follows Crowley and Aziraphale as they try to figure out how to save the world without the forces of good or evil finding out (because here even everyone in heaven wants the world to end because, well, that is what the instructions say). It also includes two equally fun subplots, involving the Antichrist growing up in the wrong household and village, and the legendary Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse preparing for the end times.
Nowhere has been adapted several times over the years and is considered Gaiman’s first solo book. It also features the magnificent and strange world of London Below – a sort of parallel universe that exists “below” the city of London, where supernatural beings mingle and exist. The novel also shows other real places with this little twist, such as the floating market at Harrods, Blackfriars and the British Museum.
As Gaiman aptly puts it, “Neverwhere” is the London for those who have fallen between the cracks, just like the novel’s protagonist, Richard Mayhew, a businessman who lived a relatively dull but normal life before moving to the United States Jail was thrown in the middle of two parallel universes, otherworldly assassins, hunters and the Marquis de Carabas.
Gaiman announced in 2017 that he was working on writing a sequel Nowhere justified seven sisters, although we haven’t received any updates or information on the release dates yet. He did, however, write a short story to go with the book titled How the Marquis got his cloak back.
Stardust shows Gaiman’s prose and world-building at their peak. Released 1999, Stardust has a darker Victorian fairy tale feel than his other works and is set in the rural English village of Wall, where a great stone wall runs through the whole town, separating our world from that of the fairies. A fair is held on the fairy side of the wall every nine years, and it is there that a young Dunstan Thorn meets a fairy woman named Una, with whom he becomes fascinated and spends a night with.
A few months later, Dunstan is surprised to find a baby in a basket on his doorstep, but immediately knows it is his and Una’s son, whom he names Tristran. Years later, we watch as Tristran grows up and embarks on a journey to recover a fallen star and win the heart of his beloved Victoria. In keeping with Gaiman’s fashion, the prose weaves together several other narratives of additional characters also attempting to find the fallen star. captivating and captivating, Stardust is a perfectly timed and romantic story that brought me to tears.
His adaptation has also received an equal number of excellent reviews, which I think speaks for itself. Did I mention our favorite Daredevil, Charlie Cox, stars?
The Cemetery Book
The story of how Gaiman came up with the idea The Cemetery Book Interesting in itself: he always wanted to write something like Ruyard Kipling’s The jungle Book and one day he saw his son riding his tricycle through a graveyard and thought it would be interesting to put his story to music in one. The Cemetery Book tells the story of a little boy named Bod (short for “Nobody” because “He looks like nobody but himself”) who is raised by ghosts and lives in a cemetery. As a toddler, his family was murdered at home, with the exception of himself, when he managed to crawl out of his cot and found his way out of the house and all the way up a nearby hill where the local graveyard was located .
From there, the spirits of spirits living there took pity on him when his deceased mother’s spirit asked her to take care of him. After much deliberation, the spirits agreed and Bod was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Owens as they were the first to find the baby. The spirits are aided by the graveyard’s caretaker, Silas, who also acts as Bod’s guardian. Continuing through Bod’s childhood and early teens, the novel is essentially a sort of macabre coming-of-age fantasy that will both haunt and move you.
(Selected image: Netflix)
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