Obviously Robin Gregory is a well-read writer. Not only does she mimic Homer’s “wine dark sea” with the novel’s opening of “dories…and spider crabs flood[ing] the beach like a ghostly pink tide,” but also refers back to great YA series like A Series of Unfortunate Events through her grim imaginativeness. Gritty magical realism is in vogue, if we account for the non-YA St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi beside which The Improbable Wonders holds its own.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been touted as Mr. Gaiman’s first book for adults in eight years. True, it does not quite fall into the “All Ages” category that separates his works from “Adult” because a six-year-old would probably be scarred for life reading (or listening) to the scene where our hero (a seven-year-old boy) is almost drowned in his Safe Place (the bathtub where he reads) by his own father.