The Ocean is classic Gaiman, we start in the everyday world that feels familiar which twists and becomes a mythical nightmare. The narrator is visiting his childhood neighbourhood and gets lost in memories of a friendship and a time when his life was turned upside-down.
The protagonist has memories which were long-forgotten of being trapped inside a nightmare beyond his ability to escape, and how friendship was ultimately what saved him as no adult within the nightmare could possibly believe him.
I found the use of a first-person narrator who remains unnamed throughout, both as an adult and then within his memories made the story more real, in spite of the mystical elements. But this book is primarily about the fears of childhood intertwined with myth and captures the child’s perspective well.
Adult stories never made sense, and they were so slow to start. They made me feel like there were secrets, masonic, mythic secrets, to adulthood. Why didn’t adults want to read about Narnia, about secret islands and smugglers and dangerous fairies?
Of course Gaiman knows that adults do want to read about Narnia (although probably not the Narnia books), and that’s how he’s such a successful adult author. There is a need in some of us at least for stories outside the boundaries of reality.