Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 181 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 3, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)
The novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman weaves a psychological thriller about an ‘ocean’ at the end of a lane where a man (unnamed deliberately by the author) lived as a young boy.
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.
Despite it’s relatively thin length for a novel (181 pages), The Ocean at the End of the Lane compacts a lot of meaning into those pages. And it left me still thinking after I’d finished it with the thought-provoking plotline. The author, Neil Gaiman, did a good job holding my interest through every page and generating intrigue.
A unique twist on the classic good vs. evil story with an adult tone to it, The Ocean at the End of the Lane took a little time to set up before fully launching into the story. I think what made this book fascinating was the surprise ending, and–highlight for spoiler– (the horridness of one Ursula Monkton), and how the author described memory and trauma.
One aspect of the novel that I found to be an interesting choice on the author’s part was the deliberate decision to keep the man (the main character) namelesss throughout the novel. In a way, I thought that it made sense.
Although the novel’s synopsis did not intrigue me, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Once you begin to read the book, it grips you and does not let you go until you finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel from the excellent writing, plot development, and character development.
I’d recommend this book to people who’ve read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s other novel Coraline or are looking for a good horror-psychological-suspense novel.