If you liked Neil Gaiman’s adult fantasy novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you might like this annotated booklist of similar adult fables.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Read-A-Likes
Neil Gaiman’s most recent adult novel opens as a disgruntled middle aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral. A rush of memories overwhelms him as he relives a long-forgotten supernatural experience from his past. This short modern myth is a surreal exploration of magic, friendship, and youth, with Gaiman’s trademark lyrical wisdom.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
A massage therapist can suddenly manipulate tattoos of her client, a former president has been reborn as a horse, centuries-old vampires experience marital troubles: grown up fairy tales don’t get any more surreal and wondrous than this. Karen Russell weaves her collection of short stories together with the same dark whimsy as Neil Gaiman, and even wilder imagination.
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Intimate and surreal as ever, Murakami’s After Dark documents the strange events in Tokyo between the “witching hours” of midnight and dawn. Grittier and slower-paced than Ocean at the End of the Lane, any of Murakami’s novels include the literary depth and tenderness that appeals to Gaiman fans.
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kauffman
Thirteen victims of a bank robbery are forced to give up their most emotionally valuable possessions, causing absurd consequences – one woman slowly shrinks, one is constantly pursued by a lion, one transforms into candy. Although even shorter and darker than The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Tiny Wife will tickle your imagination and packs a philosophical punch.
The Color Master by Aimee Bender
As melancholic and startling as Gaiman’s work, this collection of short stories reads as dark adult fairy tales. In the title story, a seamstress uses unusual materials to make a dress the colour of the moon. In another, a woman lets a sexual fantasy encompass her life. There are ogres, tigers, and girls who refuse to eat apples. The oddness and sincerity of the stories will stick with you.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
In 1899 New York, two supernatural creatures have been released from their masters, and must navigate the human world on their own. Just as serious and lyrical as Ocean At The End of the Lane, The Golem and the Jinni is a character-based historical fantasy, with the flare of a magical fable.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Exhilarating, inventive, and intricate, David Mitchell has given us another time-travel success. More of an “epic” than Ocean at the End of the Lane, it pulls off a wide range of dazzling characters, and explores similar themes of death, parenting, and the aging process.
This Oscar award-winning animated film by Studio Ghibli is one of the most beautifully imagined stories I’ve ever experienced. Like Ocean at the End of the Lane it features a child protagonist who is introduced to a dangerous spirit-world and must navigate her way to freedom.
What are your favourite Neil Gaiman Readalikes?