Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

July 13, 2013
Article first published asBook Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman on

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is the latest adult (or young adult) novel by this prolific author. Admittedly, I am long time fan of Mr. Gaiman’s work and have been looking forward to read this book.

  • 192 pages
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN: 0062255657

Book Review The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My rating for The Ocean at the End of the Lane5

Buy this book in paper or electornic format*

More Books by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Web­site | Face­book | Twit­ter) is a simple, yet sophisticated, supernatural novel . As always, Gaiman does a fantastic job writing a modern fairytale with all the terrors, delights and themes which are universal and accompany stories of old.
I enjoyed this book on several levels, I left the best part for last.

Much like many other classic books, this one is about children, but not for children. The world Mr. Gaiman creates is not nearly as complete or alluring as he did with the Sandman comic books or American Gods novel – however the world is addictive and it’s difficult to put the book down.

This novel goes back to the theme of gods and supernatural beings living among us, speaking and interacting with us. Even though it’s not marketed this way, I felt that this is a heroic tale, not because the protagonist is brave, but because he isn’t yet he fights his fear on every page.
But this is not the best thing about this book.

Who are these magical beings, in this case the Lempstocks or their nemesis, the “fleas”, never gets resolved. There are clues in the book to who these beings are, so maybe this book would need a closer reading the second time keeping in mind the question above. I did like the fact that these beings were “playing” at being human, and all that comes with it.

This is a short book, but it is very well written. I’m not a big fan of fantasy but I was delighted to read this book. Several epic battles take place between these page, the battle between innocence and myth, childhood and adulthood, real world and fantasy (although which world is real and which is fantasy is also challenged). The battle of growing up, when the world stops making sense, magic makes way for science and you do not know, nor do you accept, that maybe, just maybe, you’ll never understand everything.
But that is not the best thing about this book.

This is a good novel, well written and tight – the novel should get 5 stars and be on everyone’s “must read” list just so they could study the structure, tone, delivery, drama and focus correctly.
But that is not the best thing about this book.

The best thing about this book is that, after years of begging, my wife finally read a Neil Gaiman book and liked it a lot. We spent an evening discussing the book, something we haven’t done in a while and for that, Mr. Gaiman, I’m eternally greatful (at the time of this post, she is reading The Graveyard Book and I’m looking forward to another engaging evening discussing Mr. Gaiman’s fascination with paranormal creatures named Hempstocks and girls going to Australia).

A man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England. The man finds himself in a farm which is down the road from where he lived. As the man sits by the pond, he starts remembering events of bygone years, a suicide, a stolen car and darkness unleashed.

As a boy, the narrator encountered Lettie Hempstock, her mother and powerful grandmother – 3 magical, yet comforting creatures. The story is unfolding as the man sits by the lake, which Lettie insisted was an ocean.

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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  • Alex BaughJuly 13, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I can’t wait to read this book. I heard so much about it, already. Gaiman is just the best.

  • Helen Maryles ShankmanJuly 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Lovely heartfelt review, Zohar!

    I’m not a big reader of fantasy, but I make an exception for Neil Gaiman. His world never feels too far from real life. Even though I also read “American Gods” and “Neverwhere,” this book felt much more mature, like a leap forward. It really spoke to me, on many levels. (If you’re interested, here’s the link to my Goodreads review:

    I absolutely agree with you. Everyone should read this book.

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