The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


source: free ARC via the publisher
title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
author: Neil Gaiman
genre: fantasy
pages: 181
published: June 18th 2013
first line: I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

my thoughts:
Reading a Neil Gaiman is like having a magical experience. The imagery he creates and the feelings he evokes while I am reading his stories are what draw me in. He writes beautifully and he makes you almost believe that the fantasy he creates could be reality.

I went into The Ocean at the End of the Lane blindly, I didn’t read the blurb or reviews, I wanted to find out for myself. The unnamed narrator, who later is referred to as “Handsome George” by his father, goes back to his hometown for a funeral. He is an adult now, but when he gets to where his old house used to be he keeps going down the lane to the Hempstock’s farmhouse. As he starts to reminisce he takes us back to when he was just seven years old and his friend Lettie Hempstock lived there with her mother and her grandmother.

As he tells his story we see that the narrator is bookish and he doesn’t have friends aside from Lettie. He lives with his parents and his sister.

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”

 p9, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

There is something different about Lettie and her family, they seem older than they appear to be and they seem to hold an ancient wisdom. They just know things, and they have words and a language that only they comprehend. Without giving too much away, one day something sinister makes an appearance and uses the little boy as a gate from this world to another and only Lettie and her family know how to get rid of it. This otherworldly presence beings to wreak havoc on the little boy’s family, without them really knowing it. He is helpless as he witnesses this.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was charming and scary and magical all at once. This one reminded me of Coraline a little bit.

“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 found joy in the things that made me happy.”

p.149, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

As I read I was intrigued and captivated. I wanted the narrator to be alright. He is going through all this danger and his family is unaware but they also do not believe him. The following lines are an example of the imagery Gaiman masterfully creates, it is creepy yet there is something enchanting about his writing. I was easily swept away by the dreamlike quality of the story.

“The dead man in the dinner jacket turned his head slowly, until his face was looking at mine. His eyes were rolled back in his head, and seemed to be staring blindly at the sky above us, like a sleepwalker.”

p132, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I am trying to read my stack of review books that have arrived via the publishers, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was on that stack. It came from the publisher as an ARC as did Trigger Warning. I am very happy to have both books on my permanent shelves, sitting next to Stardust and Coraline.

“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”

p.53, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

There is an author interview by Joe Hill at the end of this one where Gaiman shares his favorite pancake recipe. I need to try the recipe and I need to order a copy of American Gods asap.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman via the publisher .
Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

18 thoughts on “The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

  1. You’ve convinced me to read Neil Gaiman’s work. This one sounds excellent. Terrific review, Naida! I’m glad you enjoyed this book (and hope you get to try the pancake recipe soon).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great commentary on this book. I have not read Gaiman but I really need to soon. I may give him a try very shortly. As you describe them, the plot and characters of this one sound so good. I also like the passages that you quoted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Naida,

    Do you know, I actually believed that Neil Gaiman was predominantly a children’s author, as those have been the only books by him that I have ever seen donated into the charity shop where I volunteer?

    When you first mentioned ‘The Ocean At The End Of The Lane’ I went away and checked out both book and author and it was only then that I realised just how amazing some of his adult work sounded.

    Thanks for expanding my horizons, even if you have also been responsible for extending my TBR pile at the same time! – I forgive you 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of your week


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you posted your review of this book today since I was just mentioning on my post today that I can’t remember too much about this one other than that I liked it. It was nice to read this and refresh my memory a bit. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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