The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of 2013's biggest literary events. Why? Because it's British horror and fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman's first adult  book since 2005's Anansi Boys, and anyone who's read Gaiman's seminal Sandman comics knows how brilliant the English author's edgier fare can be.

Initially, Gaiman set out to write a new short story, but his small idea quickly grew into The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and it's a doozy. It's a tale of innocence lost, centering on a lonely 7-year-old bookworm who discovers that his neighbors aren't normal, everyday humans—they're mythical beings in human forms. How Gaiman's unnamed narrator comes of age by befriending the next-door family's 11-year-old daughter is what powers The Ocean at the End of the Lane's emotional and, at times scary, underbelly.