Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
A Clever Author and a Clever Novel.
What a wonderful and unique story. This was my first Neil Gaiman book, but it won’t be my last. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a beautifully written by an author who is clearly a master of the craft.
It’s hard to put this book into a category, just as it is hard to describe the events in the book.
I wouldn’t consider it sci-fi, though many of Gaiman’s books apparently fall into that category. It isn’t about witches or vampires, though the supernatural is part of the story. Still, fantasy best describes it.
The genre is not what I normally read, but when I see a book with rave reviews, and lots of them, it awakens my curiosity. I will sometimes give them a try to see what everyone is raving about, and this time I’m so glad I did! I highly recommend this book, even to those who don’t think it’s their type of book.
Here’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Clearly, this is one of Mr. Gaiman’s more popular works. Between Amazon and Audible it has over 9,000 ratings / reviews, with 4.2 out of 5 stars. An excellent first choice if you haven’t read him yet. You can click on the photo to see the reviews or to order.
Narrated by Neil Gaiman himself!
I chose the audiobook version because Mr. Gaiman narrates the book himself. Again, I was so glad I did. He is an excellent narrator with such a wonderful voice! You not only get the benefit of ‘hearing’ the story as he intended, but he does a great yet unobtrusive job distinguishing each character. Whether book or audio, it is fast read. The book has about 180 pages, the audio version just under six hours listening time.
It’s oddly difficult to describe. Every time I write a sentence about it, I am thinking, ‘no, that’s not exactly right.’ It is a book about a young boy–seven years old actually, but it is not a children’s book. It definitely touches a cord within adults, that rekindles your own childhood memories–the good and the bad.
Do you remember the fear that would come from some nightmares? Some say Mr. Gaiman has included much of himself in this book. Perhaps that is why it feels so real and so touching. The boy’s memories are so vivid that you feel his hurt, his fears, the places he visits in his imagination.
A middle aged man returns to the town where he grew up to attend a funeral. To get away from the people attending, he wanders to the house at the end of the lane where he lived. There, at the back of the house, is the ‘ocean.’ To look at it though, you would see only a duck pond. Being there brings back clear memories of all that happened there when he was young.
Back then, a man was found dead down the lane from his house. That is when and where he first meets young Lettie and her family. Somehow with the man’s death something terrible is released and frightening things begin to happen. From that point on, he and Lettie must find a way to send it back. Only Lettie, her mother and grandmother have the supernatural ability to do it.
You will feel like you are the boy, you’ll remember exactly what it felt like to be afraid, to feel safe, to feel unsafe! He has a way of bringing back those fears vividly in your mind.
I’ve already started it a second time. Now that I know the story I feel a need to go back and pick up on some of the nuances and descriptions I may have missed the first time! It’s a book that you want to keep thinking about, and isn’t that about the best? What a gifted author Neil Gaiman is!
A Few More from Neil Gaiman
It’s hard to choose just three of Mr. Gaiman’s books that you might enjoy reading as well. He’s received more than seventy awards for his huge variety of works. What a prolific author he is! The three shown here will be next on my list. How about you, do you have a favorite?
This will be my next read by Mr. Gaiman. A good deed somehow takes a man from “London Above” to “London Below,” where he teams up with some unique characters on a quest. Who can resist a quest?
This too sounds like a fun story. A man goes to find a star he and his love watch fall from the sky. To bring it back, he must leave his walled, secure village and explore the outside. Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy.
Neil Gaiman: Talks on Google
Questions and Answers–Always Interesting