The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman


When a middle-aged man returns to Sussex, England for a family funeral, a visit to his childhood neighborhood yields no remarkable memories…at first.  But then he thinks of the farm down the lane.

As he drives down the narrowing lane towards the Hempstock farm, he thinks of Lettie Hempstock and the year he was seven.  She was only eleven, but she knew important, mysterious things.  With sudden surprising clarity, he recalls how she claimed the duck pond on their farm was really an ocean that carried her family here from long ago and far away.

Then the man remembers how Lettie had held his hand and protected him from many dangers…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a terrific, fast-paced, coming-of-age fantasy tale for adults about all the mysteries of life, death, nature, the past, and the present.  It begins with a man’s suicide at the pond and leads to a series of frightening, confusing and painful events.

Gaiman includes all the themes I love in a book and tells a scary story in which his characters unknowingly live alongside creatures pretending to be human and fight powerful monsters with supernatural shapes.  An alarming struggle between father and son threatens to tip the balance of the young boy’s world and it’s up to Lettie to reverse the damage.

I think Gaiman has a remarkable insight into children’s minds, how they think, what frightens them and what makes them brave.  He reminds me of all the small things I felt in my ordinary childhood and connects them to a powerful story about good versus evil and our human links to nature, the past, the present and the changing world.

The narrator wonders about these changes, but as old Mrs. Hempstock says, “Nothing’s ever the same.  Be it a second later or a hundred years.  It’s always churning and roiling.  And people change as much as oceans.”

A great read, with lots of scary twists and meaningful themes, suspenseful to the very last page.  More of an adult book, despite the young characters, but okay for high schoolers.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

24 thoughts on “The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

  1. I read this book over a year ago and loved it! Even wrote a glowing review of it for my blog. It’s a fascinating story and I’d highly recommend it to readers who enjoy fantasy and suspense. Great choice! 🙂

    1. I agree. My friend chose it for our book club meeting next week and I was happy to see that it fit into one of my summer reading challenge categories. A fast read, but packed with great themes and symbolism!

  2. Thanks for the review, Barbara. Your remarks make it sound more compelling that I was thinking from its description. You say “coming of age”, and also “children”. What age group is it suitable for? I’m thinking, due to some of the events, probably teens?

  3. OMG – LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I noticed in your comments this is your first Gaiman book. He’s an amazing writer. I highly recommend American Gods. He’s also done some great graphic novels. Sandman is his most famous and it’s truly mindblowing.

    1. His writing style really hit me. I recently read his wife, Amanda Palmer’s memoir (The Art of Asking) and then my friend picked The Ocean for our book club. Thanks for commenting. I’ll try American Gods when things lighten up around here!

  4. I actually didn’t read your post. 🙂 But I will. I want to read this book first. I love Neil Gaiman and am reading The Graveyard Book right now. So happy you discovered/decided to read him.

  5. I’ve heard of Neil Gaiman, but haven’t yet read any of his books. Your review sold me on this one, and I’m adding it to me “to read” list. Thanks!

    1. This is the only one I’ve read, but I’ve heard many of his books are excellent. I’m going to try another as soon as my schedule lets me! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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