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The Ocean at the End of the Lane – 5 Star Book Review

It’s Throwback Thursday time, let’s look at a fairly recent review I wrote (on Goodreads, new content here, I promise) for an older title: Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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About the Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

Published 18 June 2013
by William Morrow Books
Page Count: 181

Audiobook Published 18 June 2013
by HarperAudio
Length: 5 hours and 48 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

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.

Blurb copied from Goodreads.

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK

My Review

My Rating: 5 Stars

The synopsis for this book sounds like a contemporary fiction presented as a memoir, but I should have known better. Does Neil Gaiman ever write contemporary fiction? Of course not! This is Coraline for adults.

An ageing man travels back to his childhood home town and finds himself drawn to the farm at the end of the lane he grew up on. He’s drawn to the duck pond on the far side of the farm. The closer he gets, the more he obeys the urge to come further onto the farm, the more he remembers a time from his childhood when he was seven. He had an adventure with an eleven-year-old girl named Lettie, but she’d been eleven for a very long time.

I’m writing this review immediately after finishing my first listen through the audiobook version, performed by Neil Gaiman himself, and I’m tempted to start it again. I’m kicking myself for not buying this book when it was brand new. I had it in my hands at Chapters, even! Well, better late than never.

I want to write more, but I don’t want to give spoilers. I’ll say I would classify this book as paranormal/dark fantasy, definitely adult, and perfect for any reader who enjoyed Gaiman’s Coraline as a child and wants to read a grown-up story with the same feel.

This review was written on 7 July 2020 after listening to the audiobook via Audible Canada.
Note that I had not yet been reminded of the subgenre “magical realism” and hadn’t thought to call this book magical realism.

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK


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Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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