On returning to his home village a man in his early forties starts to remember the things that happened to him when he was seven. A lodger appears at his home, and shortly after is found dead in his fathers car. He is there when the body is found and is sent to the nearest farm, where the Hempstocks give him breakfast. The death of the lodger opened a rift between this world and another, and dark things begin to happen to him. Lettie Hempstock, she says she is 11, but has been 11 a long time, aids him against these dark forces.
What Gaiman has done here is to take memories, the innocence of childhood, the fears of that age, and fairy tales, blended them together and distilled the essence into this exquisite tale. The Hempstocks are worldly and wise, and care deeply about all the things around them. The events that take place and the dark forces that swirl around this Sussex village are some of main fears that a child can confront, and yet the writing is compelling and deft.
You never get to know the name of the main character as I think Gaiman wants you to think that it is him, or possibly even you, experiencing these events. The way that the main character remembers means that reality, the dreams and nightmares, are all intertwined and you are not sure what is really happening, or is in his mind.
It is a melancholy tale, and the ending is quite powerful. Really enjoyed this and can highly recommend it.