Book Review: Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Catching up. This was originally posted on Goodreads, as well as my (now dormant) Geeks With Beaks site.

This is not so much a review, per se, as me just rambling away, struggling to find the words to describe how Neil Gaiman’s Ocean hit me in the feels, and made me question my existence, the universe, and everything in between.

I apologize in advance for my excessive use of the word “awesome” and variations thereof.

Rating Based on the standard 5 star rating, I give this book 10.
Genre I don’t even know… Horror? Fantasy? Magical Realism? Wait, it’s AWESOME. The Genre of Awesome.

Details Author: Neil Gaiman (Twitter: @NeilHimself)
0062255657 (ISBN13: 9780062255655)
178 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Notes Neil wrote it for Amanda Palmer; Amanda autographed it for me. As if it couldn’t be any more awesomer.  (For the uninformed, Amanda is Neil’s wife, and one of the greatest musicians ever. In my humble opinion.)

15783514From Goodreads:
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 Lane is 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.

Memorable Quote:
“But standing in that hallway, it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me.”

Memories are waiting at the edges of things… Such haunting words.

This book moved me in a weird, strangely beautiful way. I can’t quite explain it; I have no words. Most of the other reviews on Goodreadsdescribes The Ocean at the End of the Lane as being ‘childhood, in 181 pages.’ That’s close enough I guess, yet it is so much more.

It made me think about my own childhood, with some memories so vivid and clear, and others waiting on the edges of things, just out of my reach. Most of them are still out of my reach, but I feel a little bit closer to them, having read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It made me feel like anything was possible again. Like when I was a child. Who knows, maybe I had a Lettie in my past. Or an Old Mrs Hempstock to clear it all away and make me forget. I don’t know. This book scared me.

And I truly wish I knew how Neil Gaiman did it. To write a master piece. In such a clear, simplistic way.

Okay, enough about me. In one short paragraph, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who returns to his childhood home after many years. As he sits by the pond (his friend Lettie believed it was an ocean. It really was an ocean) memories long forgotten came flooding back. Memories of an evil thing, a being that can’t quite be described, that came to their town, to his house, to his bedroom. Something so horrific that no child could quite grasp, or even understand it. It would have destroyed him if not for Lettie.

Neil Gaiman takes something supernatural, unreal, something from a horror story, and writes about it as if it was just another day. An everyday occurrence. Something normal.

It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and it still haunts me.

You simply have to read it.


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