Book Review – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author Neil Gaiman


Here is the extensive summary found on 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.

At 60% of progress, I wrote this status update:

“Every time a book gets a lot of hype and I decide to listen to the audiobook I’m disappointed. I don’t know if there is a correlation there… but it bores me. The writing is beautiful but even though it’s only 5h long I find it hard to get through.”

At the end, I gave it 2 stars and added this:

I just didnt get it.
I really wanted to like it, it got so many good reviews, but the story was confusing and even though it was supposed to be, I didnt get any of the hidden meanings and I have a lot of questions unanswered. What exactly are the Hemstock? Where did the creatures come from? What? How? huh? 
Of course, it was beautifully read by Gaiman but slower than I would have read it myself. I’ll try his other works before I make up my mind.

In retrospect, I might have a problem with magical realism. I hate not knowing where the real stops and where the imaginary begins. Also, like I wrote before, I tend to have issues with audiobooks. I do find them very convenient, and I’m currently listening to the whole Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry and loving it, but I couldn’t enjoy Cuckoo’s Calling, nor Night Circus, nor Station Eleven in audio, while they all received excellent reviews. :/ Do you have that problem?

On a last note, I did read Coraline and liked it so I don’t think Gaiman is the problem here, maybe just the story itself.


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