Monday, February 10, 2014


Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 4/5


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.


“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.”

I almost gave up on this book, but luckily for me once I got to 25% the story started drawing me in. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to admit that I didn’t grasp the message I’m positive is buried in there somewhere. Yet I can’t argue that this was an unforgettable read that thrilled me and simultaneously sent shivers down my spine.

I was a seven-year-old boy, and my feet were scratched and bleeding. I had just wet myself. And the thing that floated above me was huge and greedy, and it wanted to take me to the attic, and when it tired of me it would make my daddy kill me.

I honestly don’t have much to say about this novel. I was, again, utterly impressed with Gaiman’s imaginative writing and the mesmerizing, yet darkly terrifying, world to which he transports the reader. Sadly, I couldn’t get a hold on any of the characters, but I was just as terrified by Ursula Monkton as our seven-year-old protagonist was of her.

Ursula Monkton smiled and the lightnings wreathed and writhed about her. She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty.

I haven’t yet read Gaiman’s Coraline, but I have seen Tim Burton’s interpretation of it, and thus I can safely say that, bar the adult content, this book has the same feel to it that Coraline has. This is something Gaiman does particularly well. Scaring the heck out of the reader. I wanted to be away from the monster, and like the MC, I felt safe with Lettie Hempstock and her mother, Ginnie, and Lettie’s grandmother. Now any author who can continuously, chapter after chapter, make me feel the same fear the main character feels, is an author worth his salt. And let me tell you, Ursula Monkton is not the only monster to fear in this book.

Ursula Monkton was an adult. It did not matter, at that moment, that she was every monster, every witch, every nightmare made flesh. She was also an adult, and when adults fight children, adults always win.

Though the eighties and nineties are closer to what I remember of my childhood, Gaiman also manages to take me down memory lane to my own childhood. Of course, my childhood experiences doesn’t include anything as remotely frightening as what the narrator briefly experienced as a seven-year-old, but still I could identify with some of his daily rituals.

I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.

All in all, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was less impressive than I thought it would be and the characters didn’t invoke any of the feels I was looking for. Still, it was a unique experience and lived up to my expectations of infinite creativity and incongruity which I’ve grown accustomed to finding in a Neil Gaiman book. I would recommend this exceptional book to anyone looking for a mind-tingling read!



Neil Gaiman has written highly acclaimed books for both children and adults. He has won many major awards, including the Hugo and the Nebula, and his novel The Graveyard Book is the only work to ever win both the Newbery (US) and Carnegie (UK) Medals. His books for readers of all ages include the bestselling Coraline, also an Academy Award-nominated film; Odd and the Frost Giants; and The Wolfs in the Walls. Originally from England, Gaiman now lives in the United States.

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