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Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Title:   The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:   Neil Gaiman
Genre:   Fantasy/Mystery
Source:   Kindle Purchase
Rating:  3
Locate It:

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 Laneis 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:

This was my first Neil Gaiman novel. Friends of mine that like him, REALLY like him, so I wanted to give him a try. I chose to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane as my first Gaiman novel because the cover is so darkly beautiful.

The story is pieced together with decades old memories of the main character about a time in his life when some pretty amazing things happened to him. It is a strange story and I found myself spending much of time my time with this book wondering how on earth Gaiman comes up with his ideas. What goes through his mind to decide “Oh, I’m going to write about a giant stick figure (?) made out of fabric”? I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t hate it. Probably the main problem for me is that I went into not knowing what to expect. From the synopsis, I thought it was going to be a slightly dark mystery. I guess in some ways it was that, but it was also so fantastical that I often didn’t know which end was up while reading. The strong element of fantasy definitely surprised me (remember this is my first foray into Gaiman).

While I was left feeling a little unsettled by the story, I will say that I believe Gaiman is a master of storytelling. When he described the main character being in the bucket of water, and his feeling of knowing yet not knowing, of all knowledge being just within his grasp, it was amazing. He (Gaiman) was able to put the feeling of dreams into words. Because of his control of words, I am planning on reading more work by Neil Gaiman, and this time I will be a little more prepared.

March 31, 2014 - 1:05 am

Sandra @ Sandra's World of Books - I have been wanting to read this book for some time now. It has a beautiful cover and the blurb sounds pretty interesting. I have never read a Neil Gaiman novel before. I’m glad you enjoyed it enough to read another of his novels.

March 31, 2014 - 12:33 pm

Linda Meziere - I thought it was pretty good, not great, and weird like most of his other work.

April 12, 2014 - 5:49 pm

Christy - I haven’t read this book, but I know Gaiman’s stories can get a little … weird. 😀 Hope you try another book by him and like it even more.

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