REVIEW: The Ocean at the End Lane

I've sat here for an hour, strumming my lip, trying to think of a way to describe this book… the way I think of it is this: if somewhere in the world there is a machine that converts words into stardust (or stardust into words, either will do) then this book oozes innocence and nostalgia and sea salt. It's book that's powered by magic and driven by forgotten memories. It is a gritty and realistic novel, but comes from a different place entirely.

Author: Neil Gaiman | Publisher: Headline Review | Pages: 248 | Source: Gift |
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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.

MY THOUGHTS: As a reader with blog conveniently named Feed Me Books Now, I often joke that I devour novels… and yet here, it's the book doing the devouring. This tale of memory and myth engulfed me entirely and left me floundering about in the darkness. In all simplicity, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a powerhouse of a novel – it's short in length, but rich in imagery, characters and storytelling. If you're looking for a novel that will drag you to a delicate and dangerous alternate reality then, surely, this is your best bet.

“All monsters are scared. That's why they're monsters.”

It's also a very Gaiman novel… fans of the author will know what I mean here. It explores the fine line between childhood and adulthood, dreams and nightmares, and, Gaiman's sort-of-trademark: the power of stories. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is enchanting, haunting and harrowing… it's everything you could ever ask for from this master storyteller – and so much more. If you're fan of him, you won't be disappointed. And if you've never read anything by him, here is a perfect place to start!

As for characters, the naivety, fragility and confused nature of the narrator was both endearing and entrancing; you can think of him as a Peter Pan of our world – the boy who never grew up. And for me, that's exactly what he symbolises: being a child and fearing the "monsters" of the adult world. Gaiman has delved deep into this character and captured all of his thoughts, his memories, his feelings and enclosed them in a time capsulea capsule the reader opens and delves through, just as Gaiman did.

“I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.”

Admittedly, there were a few moments in the novel when the magic faltered, the machine broke and the words were no longer stardust… the paragraphs became chunky and broken, the pages became confused and the words ran wild… but, let's ignore this, eh? The Ocean at the End of the Lane was near perfect, and that's good enough for me.

Favourite Quotations:    
“I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”

In One Word?
Why? 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is morbidly beautiful… it lures you into the thick of the tale, only to twist your thoughts, your feelings, your mind… Neil Gaiman has created a novel that has complete control of the reader, one which is stunning, enchanting and alluring.


25 comments:

  1. I haven't actually read a single Gaiman book (shocking, I know!), but I think The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the one that's interested me the most. I'll definitely be picking it up soon as I'm so intrigued to get dragged into it. Fab review!

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    1. Thank you! Neil Gaiman is such a brilliant author and all his books are just so enchanting… I really recommend him (and this book)!

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  2. I loved this book, although I keep saying I don't really understand it. I guess that's sort of the point though - in childhood you don't really understand your nightmares and the weird creatures you dream up, here, those creatures just happen to be real.

    Sarah

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    1. I totally agree with you! I also don't think this book was written to be understood. :)

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  3. Loved this book! You describe it so so well. Great review! <3

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  4. I need to read this book! The cover is absolutely beautiful, the plot sounds great and I think this was a great post to kick start 2014 with.

    Happy New Year!
    Holly x

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    1. Happy New Year to you too! :) Yes, I think a review was the best way to start. :)

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  5. I have a bit of a thing for magical realism and I really enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane so I'm glad you did too. It was my first Neil Gaiman novel (!!) but I'll definitely be reading more of his books in the future. Fab review, Ruby! ;D

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    1. Thank you! And you MUST read more of his books! :D

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  6. Beautiful review, Ruby! :')

    I really enjoy novels that have some sort-of magical element entangled in the pages. Those sort-of novels are easy to get lost in and are usually so enthralling. This book has a really unusual premise so I'm intrigued and, for some reason, I love the title of this book. It just sounds magical all by itself.

    Happy New Year! xD

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    1. Happy New Year Rachel!

      And yes, the title does have this magical nature to it. :D It's definitely an easy book to get lost in!

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  7. I haven't read any Neil Gaiman books beyond The Graveyard Book which really wasn't my style, so I'm a little cautious but I may give this one a try. "Alluring" is a really nice description, and I want to know why everyone raves about him!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. The Graveyard Book wasn't my favourite of his, but all of his novels have a similar style. This book is a bit maturer though, so I recommend you read an excerpt from it before deciding on whether or not you want to give it a try!

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  8. I was holding this book the other day at the bookstore and now I'm mentally stabbing myself for not getting it. The quotes you posted are wonderful and your review just makes me want to read this book RIGHT NOW! I haven't read a Neil Gaiman book yet so The Ocean at the End Lane will probably be my first ever Neil Gaiman book, YAY!

    HAPPY 2014!!!!!!

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    1. ARGH BUT KAYLA YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK! It's such a Kayla book!

      But happy 2014 to you too! :D

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  9. I almost bought this one at B&N last week. I've heard good things about it and it sounds interesting. Great review! I'll have to check it out at the library or something.

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    1. Aww I always *almost* buy a book and then regret not buying it the moment I see a raving review. :)

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  10. RUBY!!! *gives a giant hug* I've missed your blog so freakin' much! I'm back from my blogging break so hopefully I'll be commenting more. :) I've been catching up on your posts and I don't think I'm ever going to stop stalking your blog again... your posts are just perfect! :D

    I've heard so many good things about The Ocean at the End of the Lane so I need to read this beauty ASAP. "Morbidly beautiful" sounds like my kind of book. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one even though it lost its magic at times. Neil Gaiman seems like such a talented author and I love his social media presence, so I need to read his work. I have had The Graveyard Book sitting on my shelf since forever, it's so embarrassing that I haven't read it yet!

    Have an amazing 2014, Ruby! Happy New Year<3

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    1. ZOOOOEEEEEEEE!!! Aww thank you, such a lovely comment! You can stalk my blog and comment all you want, I don't mind! ;)

      I love basically ALL Neil Gaiman novels – they're so magical and just asdfghjkl! The Graveyard book is really good, but not my favourite Gaiman. I really enjoyed Coraline though and your local library will probably have that! :D

      Have an amazing 2014 too Zoe! ^.^

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  11. I could just eat up your review :D I met Neil when he came up to this part of the world and in the mahoosive queue I read about half of The Ocean and remember being absolutely fell in love. Gah! Must read and finish it!!! Gorgeous review, Ruby :D

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    1. Thank you Rebekah! And you met him? I am insaaaaanely jealous!

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  12. Wow, that was such a beautifully written review! I loved it :) The Ocean At The End of The Lane looks so amazing. My dad has a copy so I must beg him for it now- this review's made me so eager to read it! I love Neil Gaiman's writing so much, I'm obsessed with all of the books and projects he's done with Dave McKean. I got to meet him in October 2012 in London and nearly died xD
    Such an awesome post, Ruby!
    -Georgia :)

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    1. I'm incredibly jealous that you met him, but love your reaction! :) And YES Georgia, you will LOOOOOOOOOVEEEE this. :)

      Glad you liked the review. :D

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  13. I just ordered this book at the library! :D I'm really excited to read it as I loved his other books.

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