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Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

By / July 16, 2013 / no comments

I’m not sure what to make of this book. It’s quite short at 224 pages. I know it sounds dumb, but this is just a story. Yeah, all books are stories you say. It is hard to put it into words but there is really no meaning to this story, like when a 4 year old tells you about a dog they saw at the park. Yet, reading the acknowledgements at the back, this book seems really personal to Gaiman. Yet putting it into the public forum means it is up for discussion.

The Ocean At The End of The Lane is written in the first person, about a 40ish old man retelling (re-remembering) the events that happened when he was 7 (name unknown). A man who was living at his house took his fathers car and killed himself after driving down the lane. He had gambled away his money and his ghost started to leave money for the boy’s family but in cruel ways. One night our protagonist wakes up coughing because a coin is struck down his throat. Our boy goes to his neighbours where the Hempstocks live and there, Lettie an 11 year old girl, helps out by first showing him the Ocean, which to the boy’s confusion is no bigger than a pond. From there, our boy starts to realise that Lettie is no ordinary 11 year old girl.

There is no confusing who’s book this belongs to. It is written very much so in Gaiman’s voice. You’ll feel very familiar with this writing if you’ve read a few of his previous books. However, unlike his previous books (that I’ve read: Neverwhere, Coraline, American Gods, Anasi Boys, The Graveyard Book and Good Omens) there really isn’t (to me) a real sense of plot development. We get thrown into this story of “magic” and other realities like we are suppose to know about it. I also didn’t get attached to any of the characters until right near the epilogue when the story had already finished.

Is Ocean well written? Yeah it is, and because of that it was a page turner. The fact I knew it was a 200ish page book helped too. However, It isn’t something I want to rave about or recommend to everyone like I do with Neverwhere (my favourite Gaiman book).

Perhaps the other redeeming feature of this book (is again near the end) where we get into a few bits of human morality and singular mind we have as people (more specifically children). I wish this book had been 300 pages and he went into this part more deeply.


Thanks to Hachette NZ for providing the book to be reviewed.

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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