Thursday, November 14, 2013

On The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - REVIEW

Synopsis (per 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 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 (the pond that she 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 incomprehensible to a little boy.  And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.  

I'll be honest.  I didn't even read the synopsis.  I saw "new Neil Gaiman book!" and that was enough to get the book priority seating on my "to read" list.  

You are looking for something to eat.  A snack.  A dessert.  And what you find is a small slice of chocolate cake.  Certainly this isn't enough food, but being the snack available, you indulge.  Your fork slides through the cake with ease, as it is light and airy, yet there is more.  Layers of chocolate creme that are moist, thick, sweet with a bit of salty.  One bite and the program code is already causing a reaction to your senses.  And even though this was merely a small slice of a cake, you find yourself sated.

This is much like The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  A small novel (181 pages) that starts rather simple in premise, but escalates into the mystical and fantastical.  The novel, much like Stephen King's Joyland, is a man thinking on his youth.  The novel is a magical story with monsters, witches and kittens.  But above all, the novel is an adult's reflection of the innocence of youth, of the loss of wonderment that comes with responsibility of adulthood.

I'm not sure I can go into much more detail and do the story justice.  It is short and simple, strange and beautiful, full of myth and wonder.  Highly recommended, and at just 181 pages, surely you can fit this in.


  1. I never read the synopsis of a book. I always want it to be a surprise. ALWAYS. As for this book.. I am not sure if I am going to read it or not. I am always... either really loving his books... or not loving them. I just don't know! I didn't realize it was such a short book though. I was afraid it was going to be huge like America God's.. which I didn't enjoy. i did love Gaiman's Graveyard Book and that was short. Maybe I'll give this a chance after all.

    1. Oh, I like to read synopses. If a book by an author I like doesn't sound good to me from the synopsis, I may just skip it. There are certain authors who bypass that though.

      The way I see it, this book is short enough to give a try, even if you are on the fence about reading it. Once you read book after book after book of 800 - 1200 page tomes, a little 181 pager is like a piece of candy (or cake, as it were).