- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Headline; First Edition edition (18 Jun. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1472200314
- ISBN-13: 978-1472200310
- Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1,522 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Hardcover – 18 Jun 2013
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Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul (Joanne Harris)
I loved it (Roddy Doyle)
Gaiman's achievement is to make the fantasy world seem true (The Times)
It's possibly Gaiman's most lyrical, scary and beautiful work yet. It's a tale about childhood for grown-ups, a fantasy rooted in the darkest corners of reality. It is a story he's been waiting all his life to tell (Independent on Sunday)
A hugely satisfying scary fantasy and a moving, subtle exploration of family, of what it's really like to be a child, and how the memories of childhood affect the adults we become. It's a wonderful book (Irish Times)
The most affecting book Gaiman has written, a novel whose intensity of real-world observation and feeling make its other-worldly episodes doubly startling and persuasive (Daily Telegraph)
This beautiful fable with flashes of terror and sparks of humour is about memory and magic and the darkness that lives without and within. Loneliness and longing saturate the pages but so does the redemptive power of friendship in the person of the magnificently adorable Lettie Hempstock (Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller)
It's a very rare thing, maybe once a decade, for a novel to come along and within a few pages you know you're reading a future classic. If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman yet you can be forgiven, but this, his sixth adult novel, will firmly cement his handprints in the literary walk of fame...this is one of those stories that is almost primitive in its power - it captures you heart and soul, and makes you grateful we have storytellers like Gaiman to feed our minds and stoke our imaginations. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is this year's big bang book (Stylist Magazine)
This is a book to sink into, allowing yourself to be gradually pulled along by its currents, into a childhood that's half remembered. Events take place over just a few days, and since the consequences of his actions are forgotten by the main character, it's easy to believe that nothing of importance has really happened. But experiencing those few days, that snippet of a childhood and a quest for survival in a world that's already terrifying for children is a joy, an experience that will stay with you long after the final page is turned (SFX Magazine)
Dark, strange and scarily brilliant: an otherworldly fable about memories and magic (Marie Claire)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a novel about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us, created by the unparalleled imaginative power of Neil Gaiman.See all Product description
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It captures the feel of growing up in the country really well, with common places made special and otherworldly simply by their location and a young imagination.
In some ways the story feels really rather sad, a melancholic vein running through, perhaps made more ‘real’ by the fact that the story is told retrospectively by the main protagonist.
A character that would appeal to many who grew up reading books, lost in adventures in their heads, he tells us that he found it hard to make friends as when younger. He seemed happy enough living with his mother, father and sister until a sequence of events brings him into contact with the Hempstock family, the youngest of them, a daughter Hettie, a few years older than himself.
They live in a farm at ‘the end of the lane’ with a pond in the middle of the yard, although Hettie calls it an ocean, a fanciful bit of imagination.
But as with stories of this type there is a lot more going on than initially meets the eye, and the new friends embark on an adventure to stop something dark seeping into the world. It is a threat that gradually escalates until only a sacrifice will appease.
The book draws on archetypes, most importantly in the form of the Hempstock family. There is a power in the form of three women, often shown as three witches although Gaiman makes them so much more in this instance. It is something that the late Terry Pratchett used and can be traced back through literature over the ages, indeed Gaiman himself made use of the trope in has Sandman series.
The Crone (rather unkind), the Mother and the Maiden – a role fulfilled by the Hempstock family. They seem somewhat archaic, but also seem to know a lot more about the world than anyone else. They are also filled with mystery and a gentle cunning. Hettie gives her age as eleven, but it is then established that the important question is how long has she been eleven?
For what is really quite a small book it is hidden with depth, from the characters themselves (especially the Hempstocks), touching on themes of loss, of greed, of suicide, of the feeling that there is more to the world than we could possibly believe, of courage and the willingness to sacrifice the most potent of things for friendship and more. Of horror that can lurk in the most innocuous of places and of the bravery it takes to find it.
It is also very unsettling, having one of the most disturbing scenes I have read in a long time as a father tries to drown his son.
Perhaps it is the mark of desperation falling upon a man finding his world being diminished by financial difficulties, but there is nothing more disturbing or terrifying than finding that one of the two people in the world that should be there for a child no matter what, is a bigger threat than anything else in the world.
It is a book that is both terrifying and wonderful, delivering a conclusion that is fitting and yet downbeat. A genuine telling and a charming read.
I loved the film Coraline and the TV series of American Gods, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane really didn’t thrill me. I enjoy some fantasy, have been a fan of horror since I was a young girl, and absolutely love magical realism, but for some reason this story didn’t get inside me. Don’t get me wrong, it is well written, and clearly loved by many, but it felt like it was lacking something I can't quite put my finger on.
Maybe it’s unfortunate this was the first book I read by this author. Perhaps I would love his other books, or it’s just best I stick to enjoying his film and TV adaptations instead. I was also expecting an adult book, but this felt much more young adult to me, so that might explain some of my disappointment.
There were a couple of quotes I liked:
“Books were safer than other people anyway.”
“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”
Oh, and this book did have my mouth watering at the memory of Blackjacks, which were one of my favourite childhood sweets. Yum!
I have Neverwhere and Stardust on my to be read pile, so perhaps I’ll give one of them a go at some point. Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually get round to reading my husband’s old copy of Good Omens one day too.
If you like a quirky, bizarre story then you've come to the right place. You know those sort of stories that immerse you in a surreal fantasy world that could just possibly exist alongside an everyday real one? Whilst people's lives intertwine with it, oblivious to its existence? Then yes, this is DEFINATELY for you.
It's dreamlike and slightly nuts in places, but altogether highly original. Yet it's told in a clever, matter-of-fact way that it actually makes it strangely plausible. It's a fantasy-fairylike-tale with a whopping, great punch throughout.
I must mention that the intimidation of the young boy by a truly vile villain, together with the 'angry birds' scene later in the book are captured in a perfectly sinister manner, painting quite a graphic image in your mind.
And I'll admit, I got myself lost a couple of times with the changing story between the past (the young boy) and the present (the boy grown up), particularly toward the end, but a quick re-read of the chapter put me straight. That was my fault entirely and not the book - therefore, I would recommend giving it your 100% attention to fully appreciate it, it would be a crime not to.
This is the first book I've read by Neil Gaiman and it's left me wanting to read more. 4.5 stars out of 5.
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