My nephew's wife Becca and I discussed which book I should read in the car on the way up, and I settled on The Ocean at the End of the Lane. (A close second was American Gods, which I also plan to read sooner of later.)
I stayed up until midnight last night to finish it, curled up under warm blankets, listening to the rain outside. Perfect conditions. I couldn't turn out the light until I was done.
Basically, Gaiman sounds like he's telling a perfectly normal stories, but then impossible--often horrifying--things happen in them. And then he continues on as though everything is still perfectly normal. In this book, a grown man heads home for his father's funeral and remembers a strange thing that happened when he was seven, something he'd forgotten about entirely.
An important truth he discovers at the heart of it all:
Lettie shrugged, "Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody."
This is also true of novels (at least good ones), not just people, I think. An engaging story on the surface, but dive in and you find there's more to it.
I was never quite sure, though, if I was reading way more into this one than there actually was. It could just be that an oral report one of my students gave a few days ago on depression and suicide prevention was still ringing in my ears. But, no, I don't think so. I think Gaiman plumbed the depths of that particular ocean brilliantly.