Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman. I’ve been anticipating the release of his newest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane for ages, couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, especially since it’s the first book in a while that’s been marketed as an adult novel.

That said, The Ocean at the End of the Lane doesn’t really read like an adult novel. At least not in the sense I was expecting. It’s definitely dark and in no ways childish, but it is much more along the eerie lines of Coraline than, say, American Gods. Unfortunately, I think my predetermined expectations have sort of lead to some disappointment in the book. I wish I had of known this going into it.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, 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.

Of course, the brilliance that is Gaiman is still here (I’ll put the blame for my misunderstanding on the marketing, not the book itself). It’s written beautifully, a very haunting and dark story about sacrifice and boundaries. He masterfully blends the lines of universes in a way only he can do, creating a world filled with his personal touch.

The characters are greatly handcrafted, the Hempstocks especially. You almost wish the book was longer and more background was given on these mysteriously magical women. And the darkness Gaiman describes, the creatures he’s created, the fears that lurk in the shadows, some of those passages reach right up off the page and drag their finger nails down your back, giving you shivers. 

In pieces, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantastic book. But as a whole, it wasn’t quite enough for me, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. But that’s kind of my own fault.

City Girl Rating: Three out of Five Glasses of Wine (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-41633914-1’, ‘’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);