Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane…

About the Book:

From New York Times bestselling writer Neil Gaiman, comes a novel of memory, magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.

A special Christmas edition of the bestseller.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive. There is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

My Thoughts:

So it looks as though I’m no longer the only person left in the world who hasn’t read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is a book that I have heard so much about, particularly since I started blogging. It seems to pop up in favourite book lists all over, and I’ve seen it name dropped into many a discussion about that slippery beast that people like to call ‘my favourite book ever’. I actually went into this book having no idea at all what it was going to be about (perhaps an ocean at the end of a lane? – but this was mere speculation), I didn’t even read the blurb. Too many have said it’s a book that everyone must read, so I was reading it either way.

The edition that I’ve read is a newly released illustrated version. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book, with a cloth bound hard cover and such luxuriously thick pages, they almost felt like cardboard. If you’re an actual book collector, a long-time fan of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or both things combined, then you’ll want to grab a copy of this one. The illustrations were really interesting, very moody but also a little bit abstract. It was a rather unique style of art, but it really suited the story perfectly. I did find that they enhanced my reading experience a lot in terms of atmospheric visualisation.

So, as to the story itself. Well, this is certainly not a book that is short on positive reviews. There’s an absolute wealth of 5 and 4 star reviews to be found. Personally, I thought the story was really interesting. It was incredibly unique and it instantly drew me in. Neil Gaiman has this distinctive ability to engage the reader directly, and the level of tension and sustained dread was high. While this is my first walk in the park with Gaiman, I have had some exposure to his work via the television adaptation of Good Omens – which I loved – a novel co-authored with Terry Pratchett.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book with universal appeal, something that is all too rare. Will I read more from Neil Gaiman? Most definitely. Do I recommend this book? Another most definitely. If you haven’t read it – which is unlikely because I was led to believe I was the only person in the world guilty of that charge – make sure you do, because it’s really worthwhile and it’s also quite excellent.


Thanks extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane for review.

About the Author:

Neil Gaiman is the author of over thirty acclaimed books and graphic novels for adults and children, including AMERICAN GODS, STARDUST, CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. His most recent novel for adults, THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was highly acclaimed, appeared on the hardback and paperback Sunday Times bestseller lists and won several awards, including being voted Book of the Year in the National Book Awards 2013: ‘Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul’ Joanne Harris.

The recipient of numerous literary honours, Neil Gaiman’s work has been adapted for film, television and radio. He has written scripts for Doctor Who, worked with authors and illustrators including Terry Pratchett, Dave McKean and Chris Riddell, and THE SANDMAN is established as one of the classic graphic novels. As George R R Martin says: ‘There’s no one quite like Neil Gaiman.’

Originally from England, Neil Gaiman now lives in America.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Hardback Illustrated Edition)
Published by Hachette Australia (Headline)
Released November 2019

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