The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman5 min read

Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane book cover by publisher Harper Collins

Fans consensus

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Book description from the publisher, Harper Collins

In Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, 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 where she once lived, 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.

Hardcover publication date: 3 June 2014 (HarperCollins)

Reviews for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book about childhood that’s written for adults and it’s remarkably effective … the heart of the story is about a man remembering a traumatic event from his childhood; it’s an examination of memories and how they can shape you and how their absence can make a huge difference …

“By the end of the book, you feel the pain that the younger version of the narrator felt as he went through the events the first time and you feel the loss the older narrator feels as he is destined to forget all of these events once again. It’s a one-two punch that’s immensely impactful.”

Michael Cook, Thoroughly Modern Reviewer
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“Much like Coraline, I think that this is a book younger readers can enjoy (cautiously, because it is somewhat horrifying), although adults will find different nuggets of truth within its pages. I’m mentioning this comparison because of the magical realism aspect of this novel– it does that great thing where the reader can decide for him-/herself how much of the magic is real, and how much is a child’s nightmare …”

“… this is the sort of Neil Gaiman book that’s very quotable. From the first chapter to the last paragraph, Gaiman has littered this novel with little gems about looking back on one’s childhood. There were times I thought these observations might be a little too direct or cliched, but somehow they worked, coming from a man’s daydream of being a seven year-old …”

Emily, Literary Elephant
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“It was such a strange story, full of darkness and peril, but also so saturated with light and friendship and hope. It reads like a fable, an epic poem condensed into under 200 pages …

“As the conflict of this story progresses, we confront many different themes about memory and identity, about dealing with pain and change, about childhood and adulthood. These concepts are woven seamlessly into the narrative, even in the more action-heavy sections … You feel everything the young boy feels, from terror to confusion to comfort to joy.

“Gaiman weaves an astounding tale about how memories lost and found can shape our lives, about the power of childhood wonder, about monsters and magic, about darkness and hope.”

Jenny A (audiobook review), Righter of Words
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“… pulls you into a twisting, winding, Wonderland/Narnia-esque plot … The hidden magical world he [Neil Gaiman] creates feels more like an inter-dimensional construction than anything, but even then he doesn’t give much away about the nature of the other worlds. Only enough so that a seven-year-old could survive successfully, and safely.

“… that’s where the true “magic” of the book lies … The fact that Gaiman could create a whole other realm of existence, not explain any of it, leave you wanting more, and have you still feeling satisfied after the dosage, is a gift not many have.”

“If you have the chance to listen to his reading (via audiobook), it’s worth it. Like listening to a glimpse into his mind, a candid glimpse into a life long forgotten.”

An audiobook review, Geekritique
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“… [Neil Gaiman] is quite open about his childhood memories influencing this fantasy book … Maybe I’m reading too much into it, wouldn’t be the first – nor last – time, but it makes you wonder a little about his childhood – and it reminds me of mine in many ways.

“It’s a short book, too short for my liking at only 243 pages of largish print … But if you like an easy evening read, it is that … like those sweets or biscuits you put out for guests and just try one yourself. And another. It grows on you in a more-ish sort of way.

“In a way it’s genius how he’s brought all the disparate elements together so, yes, you should read it, if only the once, but I still think it’s more for older readers with eclectic and possible weird interests.”

Paul, Ackadia

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