The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a surprisingly short book, for modern fantasy. Or perhaps I just read it particularly fast. I seemed to be completely immersed for a brief moment, then I emerged into the sunlight again and it was all over. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

This is a novel about childhood (and myths, and books). The different priorities, different realities, of children and adults. It’s about deeper truths, small pleasures, and what happens as we grow up (or grow older, anyway). The vast majority of the book is told from a seven year old boy’s point of view, as remembered by his middle-aged self; childlike, with a grown-up veneer. It’s a dark fairytale bordering on horror story, with a wonderfully British cosiness round the edges. It’s about a little boy, befriended by the older girl down the lane who claims her family’s duckpond is an ocean.

If you much preferred American Gods to Stardust, then you might not be immediately grabbed by this as it’s closer to the spirit of the latter than the former, I would say. If you’ve never read any Neil Gaiman but enjoyed John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, or even Lisey’s Story by Stephen King, give The Ocean at the End of the Lane a go. Vivid imagery and a rattling pace, with a poignant core.

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5 comments

  1. A great review, thousandmonkeys: honest, clear and concise, with no plot spoilers but several links to similar works is really useful.

    Thanks for this review. I am not an NG fan but will add this book to my personal reading list.

  2. A great review, thousandmonkeys: honest, clear and concise, with no plot spoilers but several links to similar works is really useful.

    Thanks for this review. I am not an NG fan but will add this book to my personal reading list.

    1. Thanks Kelvin. I do like Neil Gaiman, mainly in his ‘heir to Douglas Adams’ guise, hence my comment about American Gods vs Stardust. I think he gets overhyped, which doesn’t do anyone any favours, but this was a well-written book no matter the author.

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