Published by William Morrow on June 18, 2013
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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.
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.
Bantering Books Review
Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the stuff that dreams are made of. And I’m not talking about rainbows, unicorns, and lollipops.
I’m talking about monsters, the kind that lived under our beds when we were little. Other childhood frights, too, like being left alone, losing a pet, and fearing the dark. Gaiman’s slim novel is a child’s worst dream brought to life on the page.
It’s oh so magical. Oh so powerful. Oh so chilling. Oh so … everything I love about him. The Ocean at the End of the Lane puts on full display why Gaiman is such a beloved author. No one writes a dark fairy tale better, and that’s exactly what this story is: a nightmarish childhood fairy tale for adults.
And it’s written in a way that feels so personal. Whenever I read Gaiman, I feel as if he is sitting across from me in a coffee shop, telling me a story from his life. His writing is infused with so much of him that I hear his voice in my head while I read his words. I picture the lead character as a slightly different Neil, whether it be younger, older, handsomer, or whatever. His gentle tone, his clever sense of humor, his wisdom, his kindness – it’s all there, permeating his words.
If you’ve never read Gaiman before, there’s no better place to start than The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Of all his novels I’ve read to date, I do believe it’s my favorite. And it’s one I foresee myself revisiting again and again, whenever I need reminded of what it’s like to be a kid.