The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

details
Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Series: No.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman.
Publisher: William Morrow Books.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: June 13th 2013.
Pages: 181.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9780062255655.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

As you grow up, there’s one thing you will always cherish in your life and that’s your childhood. The memories of those unchained and untainted days always resurface when you least expect them to or serve as a lifeboat to the darker days. The sense of exploration and freedom that comes with a joyous childhood can rarely ever be surpassed, and even less likely to be replaced. After all, those are the days that shape us into the person we are today. While memories are beautiful, they are also fragile as time can stain the innocent recollections we attempt to keep intact. It is how we cling onto them and use them that makes them so special today. But what about the darker experiences we might have survived through? How much do we want to remember of those days, and how much is worth keeping within arm’s length?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the story of an unnamed protagonist who returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Along the way he takes a detour to head towards the farm of the Hemstocks’s family (daughter, mother and grand-mother) where lost memories of his days as a seven year old stream through his consciousness and takes over the narrative. This is where the eerie, weird and magical occur, and steer this tale into the realm of fables. From mysterious beings who find their gateway into the real world and a treacherous nanny whose intentions are hidden from the protagonist’s parents and sister, the story finds its essence in the imagination and innocence of a child.

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Neil Gaiman’s writing is yet again impeccable and his fascination for dreams and mythologies continues to shine in this story. Although beautiful, its main quality lies in its ability to be atmospheric, in the way he makes darkness seem so sharp and smooth at the same time. The magnetic pull that his words have throughout this story is astonishing, but his grasp on the mythical elements he incorporates to the protagonist’s past memories as a child is suffocatingly hypnotizing. What he succeeds in conveying through the story is the very fear of a child of the unknown, to the things that he can’t understand, but he also beautifully portrays the dangerously creative ways a child attempts to understand it all. Through the eyes of an innocent child, darkness is far more horrifying when you feel alone against the world.

Rest assured, the loneliness isn’t absolute as the Hempstocks’ family is a beacon of hope for our young protagonist. What they add to the story is always enigmatic, but they remain the foundation to the world-building. These confident and wisdom-full characters are always a pleasure to have around, and especially help a lot in alleviating the heavy and dark atmosphere that roams on our protagonist. Their role in the bigger scheme of things is also undeniable, especially once you reach the ending. In fact, that is where you truly start to comprehend the link Neil Gaiman was able to establish between childhood and adulthood. It’s not just about the lessons we learn, but the coping mechanisms we cement over the years to be able to revisit the past without falling in a pit of regrets, regrets of all the mistakes we make as an innocent child.


EXHIBITA

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54 comments

  • Great review, Lashaan. Neil Gaiman is an author I haven’t yet tried but really want to because of all the praise he’s gotten.
    I like the note you ended on there. Our ways of coping with the past are important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Zezee! Loads of place where you can start with him. There’s definitely something that would click well with you in his repertoire. And yes, absolutely. This story in particular however leaves a lot open-ended for readers to interpret themselves, even the ending. I just like how I could connect with it in the way we try to stay connected to our past and how we used to see life as a kid versus how we see it now.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I absolutely adored this book as well. Neil’s writing could make a shopping list interesting, so of course I shouldn’t be surprised but I definitely was after reading it. I read it for Halloween, which made it all the more atmospheric I guess, and in audiobook form, which actually seemed to enhance the experience altogether! I feel some books are better left for the paper pages, but this one (and some others by Gaiman) must absolutely be read by the man himself to be fully enjoyed ❤

    I couldn't agree more that his words were able to shape things differently, speed up/slow down time, twist things around in a masterful way, and make us crave for more. Like I was watching a movie! It was both unsettling and magical at the same time. I love that I could never truly know if something was real or just illusion, and how every sentence crept inside my skin like misty fog.

    Your review couldn't have done more justice to this book, Lashaan, and I'm so happy you managed to read/write about it on your blog! I have Stardust on my TBR for this month and I can't wait ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can tell just by what you had to say about that audiobook! 😀 I hear his voice is a helluva thing too, and I can imagine based on the interviews I’ve seen him in. Him reading his own books is definitely admirable! Unsettling and magical is definitely how I would’ve characterized it. I loved how nostalgic is all felt. How he makes everything so atmospheric is amazing! I think my next Gaiman book will be Neverwhere. I haven’t read Stardust though, but hey, I think I’m keeping all of Gaiman’s books on my lifetime-TBR hahaha 😀 Thank you so much for your insanely kind words, Sophie! You’re way too sweet!

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      • It totally is! It makes the whole thing real and happening right there in your ears… It’s insane! But in a good way. Though seriously, he’s so good *_*

        I started with Coraline, then this one, so I haven’t exactly read that many books of his BUT they were enough to convert me, which is saying something. I don’t have a special preference for my next book of his but this one fit into my readathon’s category so… 😂

        Not a problem! I only give praise where praise is due 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  • I have never read anything by this author, but I have always heard great things about him. This book certainly sounds truly terrific, and I absolutely loved your opening paragraph of this post. It’s definitely a very good question too. I think there are certainly memories of my childhood that I could live withour, while at the same time there are also enough memories that I want to keep. In the end though I guess all memories are good, as they are what eventually makes up your entire personality as an adult. This was an amazing review Lashaan, definitely adding this one to my to read list 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really popular author in the world of literature, that’s for sure! 😛 Lots of his books turned into movies too. I’m way behind in my quota of Gaiman books to read though, which is a bit shameful to be honest. Sort of like how some people (like me! heheh) who haven’t read Harry Potter.

      Thanks for the kind words, sir. I’ll always be one to vouch that all experiences are valuable in their own rights. Of course, some are banal though hahah Thanks for reading my review, Michel! I appreciate it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • American Gods is actually the first Gaiman book I’ve read, and… it’s a huge ride. It’s not easy to appreciate, as a lot of the themes are through imagery and never straight-forward. It is still incredibly well-written though. It’s also almost 3 times longer than The Ocean at the End of the Lane! 😀 Beside these two books, I’ve read Gaiman’s stuff in the comic book world (his rare Batman stories and his incredibly famous Sandman series). I don’t think there’s any perfect place to start with Gaiman, but there’s definitely something for everyone with the number of amazing books he’s written!

      Thank you for your kind words, sir!

      Like

  • This sounds like an amazing book Lashaan. 🙂 The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of the rare releases by Neil Gaiman I haven’t read yet but I need to get around to it, based on what you wrote in your review it sounds like a beautiful book, which honestly I’ve come to expect from this author. I’m sure when I do get around to it I’ll love it and I’m really glad you enjoyed this one as well. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s beautiful and atmospheric, but it’s not easy to comprehend, which is something pretty common with Gaiman in general too (in his adult work at least). I hope you’ll come to enjoy it as much or more than I did when you get the chance to, Beth! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah! Glad to be the reminder, cause this book has been waiting on my shelf for way too long too. I’m glad I finally got around to it though. But… It made me realize that there’s probably other amazing books I haven’t gotten around to yet too! 😫🤣 Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great review. I read this book a long time ago and until today the thing I remember most about it is the feeling of childhood and memories of when you were young.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’m so glad that you liked this one!! I love it (but, I pretty much love anything Neil Gaiman writes…) I found it VERY dark and atmospheric! A lot of others hated the book, though. I feel like fans were at one extreme or the other. Ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Tasya! It would definitely be a nice pick for your next Gaiman book, although there’s probably a gazillion other excellent options out there too hahaha The man has done so much in his career!

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  • What a gorgeous review Lashaan, thank you so much for sharing! ❤ I haven't read many books by this author, but I always wanted to read more, I feel like I could really enjoy his writing. I'll have to try that one out sometime 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure there’s at least one book of his that would go perfectly with your taste, but I haven’t read them all to know which one hahah Hopefully some day you’ll give his books a shot just to find out for sure. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Neverwhere used to be my favorite by Neil Gaiman, but when I read Ocean at the End of the Lane, it quickly took over 🙂 it’s SUCH a great book. The Library at Mount Char was similar, although I’d say more adult and darker, but it had very similar themes 🙂 I wish I knew more books like these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neverwhere will be the next one I’ll read. I’ve only heard people claim it is their all-time favourite book too. Also need to check out The Library at Mount Char ever since you reviewed it. 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Evelina. It’s nice hearing from you.

      Like

  • Great review. The concept of nameless and visiting the past… intriguing. I’ve read one Gaiman before and it was okay for me, but I don’t usually read this genre. I am interested in this one tho at some point. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jay! Which one did you try? My first Gaiman novel was American Gods and I can assure you that I didn’t fall head over heels for it, but I did appreciate it a lot for its hidden themes and beautiful writing. I have yet to really find the story that clicks most with me, but I’m sure Gaiman has a story for everyone to love and cherish with the number of books he’s written! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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