Wow. This one is good.
It’s very brief – 178 pages to be exact. At first, I liked the writing, but didn’t quite feel that I was reading a Gaiman novel. So for the first three chapters, I sat back and enjoyed the words – concise, descriptive and somehow personal. Chapter four is where the story takes a verrrryyy interesting turn and you get to see what is so special about the Hemptstock family who lives down the lane.
All in all, I love the idea of women older than time as guardians of the universe, able to manipulate time – maternal, practical, and yes, eternal. I love how these intriguing characters create so many questions for the readers, and for the most part, those questions go unanswered. It didn’t piss me off in a Lost finale sort of way; I truly enjoyed the mystery and wonder of it all.
Gaiman also does an amazing job detailing fear in a child’s eyes – how it feels to be so small and powerless. Personally, I think that is where the story is strongest – it calls to mind The Dark is Rising and Wrinkle in Time – two of my childhood favorites. Also, Ursula Mockton, the dark matter Mary Poppins, is a character you will not likely forget.
Some great quotes:
“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”
“I wondered, as I wondered so often when I was that age, who I was, and what exactly was looking at the face in the mirror. If the face I was looking at wasn’t me, and I knew it wasn’t, because I would still be me whatever happened to my face, then what was me? And what was watching?”
“And did I pass?”
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk. On my left the younger woman said, “You don’t pass or fail at a being a person, dear.”