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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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Goodreads Choice Award
Winner for Best Fantasy (2013)
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.

181 pages, Hardcover

First published June 18, 2013

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Neil Gaiman

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Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
April 4, 2023
Lettie shrugged. “Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.”
This story is an amalgam of helplessness and innocent ignorance of childhood with universe-old wisdom, with mystery and wonder and unexplainable and unfathomable and things that lurk around the corners of reality and seep through the cracks in the world. There's friendship and love, and cruelty and resentment. And there are monsters - and, in the true fashion of the tradition I love, the real monsters come from the people's wishes, the people's own selves, the deep down dark that lives inside us.
“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren't.”

Maybe once upon a time you were seven, and bookish, and lonely, and sometimes a stranger to your own parents. Maybe your first experience with deaths brought into your world a strange family of three living just down the lane in a little farmhouse - the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone of the fairytales.

Maybe your first ever friend, eleven-year-old (or maybe infinities-old, who knows?) Lettie Hempstock, the girl for whom in your seven-year-old's sense of own immortality you nevertheless are 'perfectly willing to die' because - of course! - she is your friend, will take you on an unexpectedly sinister journey culminating somewhere and somewhen under the haunting orange sky.

And maybe after that nothing will ever be the same.
“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
And maybe something from underneath that sinister sky will choose you as a way to break through reality into your little secure world of a child. And maybe because of that you will come to a terrifying realization that the world is not safe, that adults may not be there to protect you, that world has teeth and is ready to bite you with them any time it wants to. And you realize that nothing is as it seems - and that there's no reason why the pond cannot be Lettie Hempstock's ocean, after all.
"I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger. I saw the world from above and below. I saw that there were patterns and gates and paths beyond the real. I saw all these things and understood them and they filled me, just as the waters of the ocean filled me.
Everything whispered inside me. Everything spoke to everything, and I knew it all."

There are certain authors that in my mind have become a genre of their own. Neil Gaiman is one of them. When I read his books, I don't read fantasy, or urban fantasy, or any other such label. What I read is "a Gaiman" , a unique blend of humor and dry wit and a strong narrative voice making the strangest leaps of imagination seem like nothing out of ordinary.

And every time when I put down the book of his I've been reading into the wee hours of the night, unable to stop, I find myself with a haunting sense of longing and missing the world he created, the world into which he so effortlessly immerses his readers, the world of his storytelling that you never want to leave.

It's like Lettie Hempstock's ocean, the waters of which you wish you never had to leave, but where you cannot stay forever, no matter how badly you would want to.
"I found myself thinking of an ocean running beneath the whole universe, like the dark seawater that laps beneath the wooden boards of an old pier: an ocean that stretches from forever to forever and is still small enough to fit inside a bucket, if you have Old Mrs. Hempstock to help you get it in there, and you ask nicely."
Neil Gaiman again is at his best, which for him is, I guess, just ordinary. This book will join my personal favorites by him - especially 'The Graveyard Book' to which it's a soul cousin.

And I will revisit it in the future, probably more than once, just to hang out with Lettie and Old Mrs. Hempstock, and maybe to catch the hint of a wave on an ancient world-ocean in the back yard.

4.5 stars.
“And did I pass?"
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk. On my left the younger woman said, "You don't pass or fail at a being a person, dear.”
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,265 followers
July 31, 2023
An unnamed man comes back to attend a funeral in his hometown. He stops by his neighbor’s house where he ponders events that happened when he was seven years old. During his youth, he witnesses a tragedy which ignites a series of events, much like the first domino to fall in a set. His neighbor, an eleven-year-old girl, Lettie, promises to keep him safe. Will she be able to keep that promise?

This was an enchanting story that reminded me very much of childhood. In the story, Lettie talks about how her pond is the ocean. Do you remember having pure imagination as a child and nothing could talk you out of it? Did you ever wear those friendship bracelets until they fell off? Did you ever believe that if you dug a whole deep enough that you could reach the other side of the world?

The unnamed boy at one point tries to tell his father about a bad character. However, his father doesn’t want to hear it and punishes the boy. This reminded me of my childhood where an adult would come into my room, go through my things, and refold my blankets on my already made bed. I let my thoughts be known that I did not want anyone in my room or touching my things. The adults in my life decided to take me to counseling to “fix me.” However, they were in for the shock of their lives when the counselor laid into them stating that I was completely in the right, that their actions were completely inappropriate, that they needed to respect boundaries, and that I deserved a safe place in the world. I never went to counseling again, but the person never went into my room again. Sometimes adults don’t want to hear the truth. They are so focused on being right that they aren’t open to the truth, they miss what is right in front of them, and it crushes the person who was sharing the truth, being so vulnerable.

The Ocean At The End of the Lane also had a certain charm to it. Lettie promises the boy, “I’ll make sure you are safe. I promise. I’m not scared.” That is a really big promise especially in this age where people don’t even want to commit to attending a half-hour Zoom call. This unwavering commitment to the boy’s safety reminded me of Jay Gatsby, one of my favorite characters.

Overall, this book was breathtaking and a remarkable journey.

Another word, if I might…….

When reading this book, I used a technique called immersion reading. Immersion reading is where you listen to the audiobook while you are following along in a copy of the text (either a physical printed copy or a digital version of the text). Whenever possible, I practice immersion reading for a variety of reasons. However, it is expensive as it involves getting the book twice: one as an audiobook and twice as the text. While Audible has the most extensive library, it is extremely expensive. After some help from my friends on the internet, I was introduced to Scribd which is $84.99 per year (or $8.99 per month), and it offers unlimited books (text) and audiobooks. Through Scribd, I procured a copy of the text and listened to the audiobook. The author, Neil Gaiman, narrated the audiobook. His voice has almost a magical quality to it, and it was such a treat just listening to him read the book. What is better than reading a book? Reading a free book (or almost free book).

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
August 25, 2016
Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

This book is childhood.

Are all Neil Gaiman books like this? So beautifully, hauntingly nostalgic? I confess, this is my first; but right now I am logging into amazon to make sure it isn't my last. I have one criticism, which is that this book isn't really an adult book. The few adult scenes felt added as an afterthought to try and convince us little people that this is actually a very grown-up kinda story. But, take out that dodgy sex scene, and I would have been mesmerised and terrified by this book as a kid, perhaps even more than I was reading it today. It has everything that we could possibly ask for in childhood: magic, adventure, overcoming fears, those things that children know and adults no longer understand or remember, and it's all wrapped up in a tidy 180 pages.

There's an almost dreamlike quality to the story and there are many reasons it's hard to know what's real and what is not. The book opens with a middle-aged man revisiting the place where he used to live with his parents and sister when he was a young boy of seven. He visits his old house before wandering down to the farm at the end of the lane, a place that starts to bring back a strange sequence of memories as seen through the eyes of a young boy. How real are the magic and monsters of our childhood? When we look back and see ignorant youths believing in the impossible, are we enlightened adults? Or are we the ignorant ones, blinded by years dedicated to being sensible and not believing? Are the villains we remember monsters from another world? Or is that just how children make sense of the people who brought upheaval into their lives?

I found it truly fascinating.

The creepy yet beautiful setting in the English countryside was fantastic. A little lonely, somewhat isolated... like a world entirely of its own in which anything could be possible. This book held all the charm and beauty of the world portrayed in Cider With Rosie, but was ten times more compelling and addictive. And there were the characters, of course. Lettie Hempstock, an eleven year old who might just have been eleven for a very long time, and her quirky mother and grandmother. Also, the narrator had my sympathy throughout; his seven year old lack of understanding and fear of the adult world that he saw as separate from his own was easily believable, for me. I think we do create a world of our own when we're kids, one that adults aren't a part of, that's how we're able to believe in things like magic and wizards and Santa.

To put it plainly, I really enjoyed my first trip into the world of Gaiman. The ending is perfect. A little sad. But mostly perfect.

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Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
December 23, 2013

Sitting down to write a review of this book, I don't quite know where to start.

I was going to quote a passage that I particularly loved. But no good can come of that. Once I opened that door, where would I stop quoting?

So let me say this. I genuinely loved this book. I look forward to reading it again. I will buy copies for my family as gifts. I will listen to the audio and lament my own lack of narrative skill. I will gush about it to strangers.

In short, it is a Neil Gaiman novel.

There is truth here, and beauty, and joy, and a sad, sweet melancholy that moves through my chest like distant thunder.

I realize that what I am writing here is not really a review in any conventional sense. It is a paen. A panegyric. It is the textual equivalent of a huge, happy, gormless grin.

And you know what? I'm fine with that. Let the professionals write their reviews. Let them get all jargony about it. Let them try to pin this book to the page, not realizing that a pinned butterfly holds no delight. A pinned butterfly is nothing like a butterfly at all.

I make no claims to impartiality in regard to Gaiman's work. Sandman changed how I thought about stories. Neverwhere was a talisman for me. Stardust is a golden bell hung in my heart. And American Gods taught me that there was a *name* for the sort of book I was struggling to write. It was a picaresque.

So if you're looking for impartiality, this is not the review for you. Look elsewhere.

Me? I will enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane without dissection. It made me happy. It made me feel less alone. It made me love Neil Gaiman a little more than I already did, and that's something I didn't think was possible.

Do I hope to someday write a book like this? No. I never could. He's done something odd and strange and lovely here. I couldn't hope to replicate it.

Instead, this is what I hope.

In the future, when Joss Whedon and I are best friends and hanging out together in my tree fort, I hope Neil Gaiman comes over too. Because then the three of us will all play Settlers of Catan together. And I will win, because I'm really great at Settlers of Catan. But I will also be very gracious about it, and apologize for putting the bandit on Gaiman's wheat twice in a row.

Then we will make smores, and I will toast a marshmallow with such deftness and perfection that they will be amazed and realize I am kinda cool. Then we will talk about Battlestar Galactica, and which Doctor is our favorite, and we will tell ghost stories late into the night.

God I'm tired. I should really go to sleep. I have no idea what I'm saying anymore.

I hope I don't regret this in the morning.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
I really, really wanted to like this book...but like so many Gaiman novels, it fell flat. Like pancake-flat.

Maybe this one is a dud because we follow the least-interesting character in the entire book.

Honestly, I couldn't be the only one who would've preferred to get the perspectives of the witches. Or the worm-creature? Or even the spiteful cat.

Why Gaiman chose such a young, bland character to be his main, I will never know.
I was a normal child. Which is to say, I was selfish and I was not entirely convinced of the existence of things that were not me, and I was certain, rock-solid, unshakeably certain, that I was the most important thing in creation.
Perhaps this one is a dud because while there were many parts that caught my attention, nothing was fleshed out enough to hold me to this book.

Sure...there's a hint of this, a dash of that but nothing really comes to fruition, only frustration.

This (in part) because our main character is so young and naive that he really can't do much. Sure he can duck away for a minor adventure but never anything longer than an afternoon.
“Oh, monsters are scared," said Lettie. "That's why they're monsters.”
Possibly this one was a dud because after nearly 200 pages...nothing is explained.

While there's many hints given about the mystical world and it's otherworldly characteristics ... yet nothing concrete is explained. EVER.

Sometimes a little mystery is needed and sometimes, just explain it already.

Neil Gaiman always has the craziest, wildest, awesomest ideas...and 4/5 times they just absolutely fall flat to me.

It's like...I like the idea/concept better than actually reading the book.

That being said, I do enjoy how much his main character loved to read. Every time he talked about books, I was like preach!
“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”

Audiobook Comments
Despite all my whining and complaining, the one thing I cannot fault is this audiobook. Neil Gaiman read it himself and wow. Stunning audio. He could read a Walgreen receipt (heck, even a CVS/Pharmacy receipt) and I'd listen with rapt attention.

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Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
February 15, 2023
"I remember my own childhood vividly...I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them." -Maurice Sendak

Considering how obsessed we are with the idea of childhood as a culture, it’s pretty wild that no one can capture it quite like Neil Gaiman.


There are a lot of movies about boring white-straight-male aspiring writers in their 30s being taught how to LIVE WHIMSICALLY by a manic pixie dream girl. There are books about the beautiful wonder of a child’s perspective. There are millions and millions and millions of TV shows depicting the dramatic trials and tribulations of the high school experience (as lived by gorgeous twenty-three year olds).

But none of it feels true. Maybe only Neil Gaiman can remember what it’s like to be a child.

It is wondrous, and beautiful, and whimsical, and even dramatic. But it’s also dark and scary sometimes. Inexplicable things happen, and the world seems uncontrollable, which is magical and horrifying. That’s childhood.

That’s also this book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is actually terrifying.

It’s magical, but probably not in the way typically associated with fantasy novels narrated by children. It’s magical in the way that I felt the world was when I was a child. As it turns out, that’s much more magical. And much more amazing to read about.

This book is so, so short, and so devastatingly lovely. It’s beautifully written and emotional. It made me scared and it made my heart hurt and it made me smile.

I want to quote more of it, but really I want to quote everything. Maybe I’ll just excerpt ever-longer passages until I trick you into reading it?

So, better idea, just read it yourself.

Bottom line: It’s 181 pages. What would it hurt to read it read it read it read it read it?


things this book has in common with the graveyard book:

a) by neil gaiman
b) first 5 star rating of the year
c) totally f*cking rad

review to come b
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
February 21, 2021
“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”

This is a book that teaches us that we should never stop dreaming, that we should never stop seeing oceans in ponds and that we should never, ever, stop seeing better worlds in the things we read.

The pond that was an ocean bespeaks the level of optimism that is inherent with childhood dreams. Everything seems better. Everything seems bigger and grander. Imagination makes the ordinary seem extraordinary and fantastic. I have no idea what elements were fantasy within the novel. It could even be magical realism or a child’s interpretation and exaggeration of real life events. Part of me felt like it was based on real things but distorted and twisted to evoke the sense of unfamiliarity a child has in an adult world.

But to perpetually see the world through child eyes would be a boon:

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”


It’s a book for the lost, for the social pariahs who do not fit in with normal society. It is a book for those who would rather spend their days reading than interacting with the human race. Humans are always disappointing, books are not. And our little hero knows this so he concocts his own friends and draws upon the lessons he learnt through reading. In this regard it reminded me of Coraline. It’s a book about an odd child who dreams of something a little bit better than the reality they experience.

The friend he meets becomes his guardian against the forces that would destroy him and his family. She becomes a doorway into understanding an entirely new world. In this I saw a lonely child longing for something he didn’t have, a connection with someone who would hold him up when the days become their darkest. In The Ocean at the End of Lane anything is possible as a child’s dreams and memories propel the narrative forward.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a truly fantastic book in every regard. I absolutely loved it.



You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,310 reviews120k followers
May 19, 2022
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but aren’t.
I turned 7 early in third grade. It was a memorable school year because I had for a teacher a nun with a reputation. Sister Evangelista was about 5 foot nuthin’, and symmetrical. If the what’s black and white, black and white, black and white – a nun rolling down a hill joke were applied to her you would have needed a lot more black-and-whites, as her spherical shape would have kept her rolling a long time. It earned her the nickname Cannonball. She was notorious, not only for her distinctive dimensions, but for having a particularly foul temper. Her starched garb also pinched her face into a state of permanent floridity and pursed her lips into a particularly fish-like shape. It was not a happy year for me at school. There would be more than one instance of raised voices, and more than one rap across the hands with yardsticks. I was even banned from the classroom for a spell, to wander the halls for hours, unaccompanied. But I somehow knew that eventually I would be a third grader no longer and would escape the sharpened claws and flapping habit of this creature. She was unpleasant, for sure, but she did not present an existential threat.

Neil on a drainpipe as a lad – from his FB page

When the unnamed narrator of Neil Gaiman’s book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, turns 7, he has troubles of his own. It begins with zero attendance at his birthday party. The family comes on some hard times and must take in boarders. The boy is given a kitten, Fluffy, to ease the loss of his room, but the pet falls victim to a cab, arriving with a South African opal miner, the latest paying resident. Not long after, the miner takes the family car. It is found soon after, at the end of a nearby lane, with a body in the back seat, and a hose running from the tail pipe to the driver’s window. At the scene, the boy meets an eleven-year-old girl, Lettie Hempstock, who takes charge of him, and brings him to her family’s farm, which borders the lane. And so begins a beautiful friendship. (Members of the extended Hempstock family, btw, turn up in several other Gaiman books)

Lettie lives with her mother and grandmother. When strange events begin to erupt in the area--the boy’s sister is assaulted by flung coins, the boy wakes up choking on a coin, and other strangeness afflicts neighbors--Lettie seems to know what is causing them. She is sent to take care of it and brings the boy, her little friend, along. They travel across the Hempstock property and into what seems another world, (mentions of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland, among others, let us know that lines will be crossed) a place that has some threatening inhabitants. Lettie confronts the troublemaker, but the boy reacts to an event instead of thinking and disobeys her lone order, to keep hold of her hand. That is when the real trouble begins.

Image taken from abc.net.au

The boy is far too young for this to be a coming of age tale, but a central element of horror, whether of the Freddie Krueger, Nurse Ratched (or Sister Evangelista) variety, or the flapping beast central to Gaiman’s tale, is one’s helplessness before a greater, and ill-intentioned power. Although he doesn’t characterize his intentions as horror-mongering, Gaiman has laid out what he was up to in writing the book.
It was meant to be just about looking out at the world through the kind of eyes that I had when I was 7, from the kind of landscape that I lived in when I was 7. And then it just didn't quite stop. I kept writing it, and it wasn't until I got to the end that I realized I'd actually written a novel. ... I thought — it's really not a kids' story — and one of the biggest reasons it's not a kids' story is, I feel that good kids' stories are all about hope. In the case of Ocean at the End of the Lane, it's a book about helplessness. It's a book about family, it's a book about being 7 in a world of people who are bigger than you, and more dangerous, and stepping into territory that you don't entirely understand.
Gaiman was aware that his work might appeal to young readers for whom is it not intended. He said that he deliberately made the first few chapters of the book dull as a way to dissuade younger readers, who would be put off by that and disinclined to continue on to the juicy bits.

The world the young boy faces may not be understandable. There is just too much to take in and Gaiman captures that element of childhood quite well.

Changes for the boy at home include the antithesis of Mary Poppins, in the form of one Ursula Monkton, who seems to have arrived on an ill wind, with the added bonus of her having designs on the boy’s father. Adults overall seem pretty careless. But there is some balance in this universe. Lettie’s family seems beyond time itself, a bright light in the darkness, welcoming, comforting, nurturing. And then there’s the ocean. Looks like a pond to you or me, but it has qualities quite unlike other bodies of water. As in his earlier American Gods, there are things that have been brought to this newer world from the place its residents once occupied. You may not be able to go home again, but what if you could take it with you? (Also a theme in American Gods)


Gaiman says he usually writes for himself. One thing that was different about this book was that he was writing for someone else. His wife, musician Amanda Palmer, was off in Australia making an album. Where you or I might send along daily, or weekly notes of what was going on, Gaiman sent something else
I will tell my wife, by making stuff up, kind of what it was like to be me when I was seven, from the inside of my head, not in the real world, then put it in the actual landscape that I grew up in.
There really had been a boarder who killed himself in the family ride. Like his young hero, Gaiman climbed drainpipes. There really was a farm down the lane that had been recorded in the DomesDay Book.

And as with such enterprises he did not have a large framework constructed. It was "like driving at night through the fog" – he knew "three or five pages ahead what would happen", but no further.

There is some material here that rankled a bit. The substitute parent trope had been used to good effect in Coraline and manifests in many of the Disney animated classics, evil stepmothers in Cinderella, Snow White and the like. Ditto here. Maybe going to that well one time too many? And is dad really that dim? But there is also a nice diversity of conceptual toys at work. The flapping baddie was fun. The magical ocean and ageless Hemplocks are also very engaging. The nothingness created by the creatures referred to, among other things, as hunger birds, reminded me of Stephen King’s Langoliers, also the Nothing of the Never-Ending Story and the Dark Thing of a Wrinkle in Time. Might the three Hemplocks serve as a sort of feminine Holy Trinity? There is a wormhole that involves an actual…you know…worm, which made me smile for a long time. And any time there is a dip into water, one must ponder things baptismal, rebirth, either literal or spiritual.

Letting go is what so much of growing up is about. It is the very thing that must be done in order to be able to grow, to live one’s own life. But sometimes letting go has the opposite effect, and can place you in peril, particularly when you are only 7 and not ready for the consequences. There is a lot in this short book on holding on, and letting go, and the price of both. There is a lot on doing what is right, on personal sacrifice, on permanence and the ephemeral, on remembering and forgetting.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short novel. But do not let go of the notion that this is a book for adults. The ocean in question may look to be a pond, but do not be deceived. Jump in. The water’s fine, and deep.

First posted 8/19/13

Published 6/18/13

This review is cross-posted at Coot's Reviews. Come say Hi!

==============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, FB and Tumblr pages

A wonderful article on Gaiman in the January 25, 2010 issue of The New Yorker

An excellent audio interview by Jian Ghomeshi of Canadian Broadcasting

I also reviewed Gaiman's
-----Stardust, briefly, a few years back
-----The Graveyard Book more fully in October 2012.
-----Trigger Warning in March 2015
-----The View from the Cheap Seats in June 2016

12/3/13 - The results are in and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted the Goodreads Choice Award winner for fantasy

12/16/13 - The Ocean... was named one of the best fiction books of 2013 by Kirkus

2/25/14 - The Ocean at the End of the Lane is nominated for a Nebula Award
Profile Image for Scarlet.
187 reviews1,169 followers
March 7, 2016
"All monsters are scared.
That's why they're monsters."

48 hours ago, when I read the last page for the first time, I had this strange, sad feeling. Like I had come to the end of something beautiful without really comprehending the beauty of it until the last minute.

Which is why it took me a re-read to realize how brilliant this book is.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is childhood in 181 pages.

Short. Sweet. Magical. Scary. Real.

There is a reason this book is labelled as "adult" and it has nothing to do with sexual content or violence or gore. To be an adult by age is meaningless because, to truly appreciate this book, you must be an adult by experience. You must be adult enough to miss childhood.

Me, I'm not there yet. I don't miss being a child because I remember being a child. I can still see it when I turn back.

So right now, no. This is not my favorite Gaiman book.
But in 20-odd years, it probably will be.
Because The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those books.
It can only grow in appeal the older you get.

"And did I pass?"
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk.
On my left the younger woman said,
"You don't pass or fail at being a person, dear."
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,414 followers
August 10, 2016
In the acknowledgments section of his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman admits that the project was initially meant to be a short story, which grew to be a novel - not a very long novel, but a novel nonetheless. For fans it was big news, as it would be his first novel for adults since 2005's Anansi Boys.

I was never really into Gaiman's work - I wasn't crazy about American Gods or Neverwhere and Coraline, all of which are routinely mentioned as fan favorites. I loved Stardust, though - his short fantasy which I thought was beautiful and had to read in one sitting. The Ocean sounded like a a welcome return to the familiar field, and I was compelled to give it a try.

Gaiman's narrator is an unnamed English man in his forties, who returns to his childhood home located in the English countryside of Sussex. There he is drawn to familiar places which he has not seen for ages, and which evoke memories long buried. He ends up by the house of his childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock, and remembers when he was seven years old and how Lettie used to call the pond beside her house an ocean.

Ultimately, this is a lazy book - for several reasons. The first one is an enormously flat and dull narrative voice. The narrator is obviously remembering his youth from an adult perspective, but the end effect is reduced to sentences in vein of "I did this and that" "And then this happened". There's absolutely no childish joy or fear, or even the adult's surprise at a sudden recollection of a forgotten memory of youth. The language is lackluster, flavorless and as flat as the steppes of Kazakhstan, to the point of becoming downright dull and distracting because of its dullness. How are the readers supposed to give a damn if we can barely muster the strength to turn the page?

Perhaps it's my own recent personal experience of spending a week in an English village while visiting my friends, but I thought that the setting of this book was another lost opportunity. The countryside is beautiful, but all the the reader will get from it in this book is the fact that people live on farms and sometimes have small ponds near their houses. There's no sense of place specific to Sussex or England in this book at all; it could as well have taken place in the suburbs of Chicago.

Not that long ago I read and reviewed The Land of Laughs, the debut novel of Jonathan Carroll, a fan favorite considered to be classic of fantasy - which I found to b a bland play on fantasy tropes without much originality, I have the same complaints about The Ocean - which really is nothing more than an overly stretched short story, employing all the well known staples of the genre and made up to resemble a short novel. The protagonist is an obvious stand-in for the author, but besides waxing nostalgia and melancholy the novel doesn't seem to have any real goal or accomplish anything in particular. It reads almost like Neil Gaiman's rushed assignment for a creative writing class he took ages ago - full of pretension of powerful statements about human beings, deep as the ocean, but in reality being little else than the well-known drizzle deep no more than an ordinary puddle, which evaporates after a few days and leaves absolutely no mark.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,536 reviews9,963 followers
February 4, 2018
$3.99 on kindle US. Today only! 2-4-18

This was a magical story both happy and dark. I loved it so much! And Neil Gaiman did a wonderful job of reading his own book ❤️

Once a boy befriended a girl named Lettie Hempstock, her mother and grandmother and nothing was ever the same again.....

There are beautiful and horrible things in this world and we find these things inside this book

A boy that is coming of age in a world we know nothing about and everything about....

It did make me sad but you have to read the book to understand it. I'm going to be adding this to my collection as I got this audio from the library Overdrive. I highly recommend it!

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, and find the spaces between fences.

I'm glad I still haven't grown up!

Mel ❤️

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
January 28, 2013
It's kinda ridiculous how much I want to read this book.

I'm seriously considering abusing my small amount of power to see if I can wangle and ARC out of somebody....
Profile Image for Adina .
891 reviews3,547 followers
August 19, 2016
It is the first book I read by Neil Gaiman but I am sure it will not be the last. It is creepy and beautiful and hopeful and melancholic.

It is a book about the innocence and helplessness of childhood, about memories and also about so much more as it contains a lot of universal truths so beautifully written.

It is an adult story even if most of it is narrated through the eyes of a seven years old boy. I loved the definition of adults from the book:

Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.

The book is also a horror novel, with monsters, terror, pain and suffering that seems too much for a child. However, in the real world you find monsters everywhere and we need to learn how to deal with them from early age.

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometime monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren't.

I could probably cite from this book forever but I will stop now. I recommend it to everyone that was once a child.
Profile Image for  Teodora .
331 reviews1,775 followers
September 26, 2023
5/5 ⭐
"Can't drink the water from the sea, can you? Too salty. Like drinking life's blood."

I don't even know what could I say more about this book than wow.

I have very little experience with Gaiman's books - I only read Coraline but loved it all the same.

There was a certain cosiness to the story.
Even though some really terrifying, nightmarish creatures were lurking around throughout the pages of the book, the general feeling I got from the whole story was exactly the same feeling a fluffy blanket and a steaming cup of tea give you.

I do believe that this was all because of the amazing narrative voice. It is obvious that Gaiman is a natural storyteller.
"I lay on the bed and lost myself in the stories. I liked that. Books were safer than other people anyway."

I loved the careful importance the writer gave to the books and the action of reading. The main character is a little lonely boy who loves his books and loves knowledge. Sad, if you think about it, but beautiful in its own way.

The fascination for mythology and folklore is craftily exposed here - some aspects are educational, some are hidden and only at some point visible through the whole turmoil of words and thoughts.
Look for small hints, it says.

Sometimes, things get deeper, like the ocean.
The beautiful manner of speech presented in this book hides some philosophical ideas behind it, some as old as time that leave you thinking a bit on them.
Sometimes, it feels like an introspection.
"If I looked inward I would see only infinite mirrors, staring into myself for eternity."

The title itself blends perfectly with the theme of the story and with the hidden, philosophical metaphors.
There was an ocean at the end of the lane, disguised in a simple, mundane pond. But that water held the secrets of the world between its shores. That water held all the pain in the world and no pain at all. It held everything.
And it was an ocean only in the eye of the beholder.

I honestly believe that was such an artistically pleasing, cosy and warm story to read. I loved every page of it!

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
July 4, 2019
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is a fantasy in the The Graveyard Book section of his cannon, with Young Adult elements but written for adults.

Like American Gods, the book explores mythos and ancient mysteries and Gaiman is in rare form with a subject matter that resounds with disconnects between our mature selves and our inner child. Gaiman approaches the supernatural in his story in much the same way as Jo Walton did in Among Others, using minimalism and a subtle shift in perspective.

In many respects, Gaiman has become a fantasy writer in the tradition of Ray Bradbury. This was a very good read.

Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,735 followers
November 4, 2017

هل هي دراما اجتماعية أم واقعية سحرية، فانتازيا حضرية أم لعلها عالية..أم هي رواية رمزية؟
كل هذا قد يتجمع في عالم واحد..عقل الأطفال، باﻷخص هؤلاء ذوي الخيال

طفل وكتاب وقطة صغيرة، طعم الخبز اﻷسمر وتوست أبيض بلا طعم، المربي البيتي بالقطع و كوب لبن 'محلوب' لتوه
القمر عندما يكون بدرا كبيرا مصفر اللون، فكر قليلا وقل لي بصراحة...متي أخر مرة نظرت فيها إلي القمر؟
جو الريف، بحيرة البط الصغيرة التي كنا نراها محيطا...المحيط الذي بأخر الحارة
أخيرا صرت ووالدي أصدقاء ببلوغي العشرينات. كان بيننا القليل جدا من الإهتمامات المشتركة عندما كنت صبيا، وأنا متأكد إنني كنت خيبة أمل له، هو لم يتمني إبنا بكتاب ، منعزل لعالمه الخاص..هو أراد إبنا يفعل ما فعله: يمارس السباحة، الملاكمة، الرجبي، ويقود السيارات بإنطلاق وإستمتاع ، لكن لم يكن هذا ما أنتهي به الحال

** الأحـــداث **

هي قصة هذا الصبي .. بلا اسم .. نهم للقراءة عاشق للكتب.. في السابعة

عفوا , صبي في الأربعينات من عمره, فقد عزيز عنده وقادته قدمه بعد الجنازة لمكان طفولته ..المنطقة التي كانت ريفية في اواخر الستينات..ربما تغير مكان بيته..ولكن بيت المزرعة التي في أخر الشارع ظل كما هو
وعند البحيرة, عفوا, المحيط الذي في أخر الحارة جلس ليتذكر

في عيد ميلاده السابع لم يحضر أي أحد من زملاءه الذين ارسلت لهم الدعوة
لم يحضر عيد ميلاده سوي أخته الصغيرة وصديقتيها
هديته الأفضل يومها كانت من أبيه "قطه سوداء مزغبة" لكنها عوضا عن تأجير غرفته لعامل منجم لضائقة مالية تخص أسرته
عامل المنجم الأفروأمريكي يصدم قطته يوم وصوله بسيارة الأجرة التي اقلته
هل يمكن ان يسوء الحال للصبي أكثر من هذا؟
في اليوم التالي يعثر الجيران بالمزرعة في أخر الحارة علي سيارة الأسرة, وبها جثة عامل المنجم ..منتحرا..وهنا تبدأ القصة

حيث يتعرف الصبي علي أهل بيت هذه المزرعة ,عائلة هامبستوك, الجدة..الأم جيني .. والأبنة ليتي

وأخيرا سيصير له صديقة , وإن كانت أكبر منه ظاهريا بسنتين ..ولكن معا سيقابلا الكثير من المغامرات
من كيان عجيب يحاول تحقيق أحلام أهل المزارع بالمنطقة ..ولكن هذا الأمر يتحول إلي كابوس
لمربية غريبة الأطوار للصبي وأخته تعيش معهم في حجرته السابقة..تقيم علاقة مريبة مع أبيه
علاقته مع أبيه تتعقد وتزداد عداوة مع تغيرات في سلوكيات أبيه منذ وصلت تلك المربية العجيبة

ثقب عجيب بالجسم وبوابة تنقلك إلي عالم أخر..كيانات عجيبة تحقق الأماني وظلال سوداء معتمة تحاول القضاء عليها..إيونات وبروتونات..أصل الكون والمكان والزمان
كل هذا
في بحيرة البط الصغيرة التي ف.. عفوا.. في المحيط الذي في أخر الحارة

هل هي مجرد مغامرات طفولية يتذكرها عقل رجل ناضج ويصاحبها مشاعر الحنين الي الماضي , النوستاليجا؟
أم هي هروب من واقع به بعض من المشاكل العائلية المعتادة؟

هل كل هذا الرعب حدث حقا ، ما كل تلك الرموز المرعبة، العلمية أو حتي تلك الرموز التي أكاد أن أجزم أنها تبدو دينية

كل ما أنا متأكد منه هو أن كل هذا يستعيبه صبي في السابعة..وصعب علي عقولنا كلما مر بنا العمر
ربما كبرنا كثيرا لذا لم ندرك ما الفاصل بين الحقيقة والخيال


بسيط..سلس وسهل , طفولي شيئا ما بما يناسب طفلا في السابعة
وعميقا احيانا , ليس بتصنع او بمبالغة وإنما بشكل ملائم لعقل طفل
أو البالغ الذي يتذكر عندما كان صبيا

شطحات الخيال العلمي وشئ من الرعب مع القصة الدرامية ممزوجة بنوستاليجا وحنين لماض جميل حين كان للأشياء طعما اخر كان جذابا
وعند ربطه ببداية القصة...الصبي الذي في الأربعينات..في منتصف العمر.. ستشعر فعلا بحنين

لا مط ولا تطويل بالأحداث .. هي قصة طويلة , "نوفيللا" كما يقولون وليست رواية كبيرة.. أما عن نوعها وتصنيفها..فكما سألت في البداية..ولم أجد جوابا

Fairy Tales فقد كانت كالقصص الخيالية
حيث جنية تحاول منح الناس ما يحلمون به..ومزرعة يطل عليها القمر في كل ليلة بدرا منيرا

وكانت كقصص الخيال المرعبة عندما جائت تلك الظلال الرهيبة التي من المفترض أنها تعيد توازن الحياة.. وعندما تحولت الجنية التي تحقق الأحلام إلي وحشا

وكانت بها الخيال العلمي كحقيقة الزمان والمكان وتخطيهما , والأبعاد المختلفة..وعقلية الأطفال

وكانت كقصص السحر , فأكاد أن أجزم أني أتذكر ذكر جذور نبات "الماندريك" بالرواية..كتلك التي ظهرت بهاري بوتر

كانت كالقصص الدينية...فشعرت بشئ من التشبيهات حول التعميد والثالوث المقدس احيانا

والأهم كانت دراما أجتماعية ظاهرة في حياة الصبي الذي بلا أصدقاء حقيقين..وأسره تعاني مشاكل مادية
وحياته عندما صار رجلا مطلقا فقد عزيزا لديه


أنت لا تنجح أو تفشل في كونك شخصا يا عزيزي

هكذا قالت الجدة للصبي...متي وأين , لن أحرق لك الأحداث
لكن بوصولك لهذا الجزء ستشعر فعلا أن تلك القصة فعلا أثرت بك

وربما هنا تأكد أن هناك بها ملمح ديني
أو ربما عن الحياة

الشخصيات بسيطة وغير متكلفة , شخصيات عائلة هيمستوك تعتبر عجيبة وكما ذكرت ويكابيديا أن لهم ظهور في روايات أخري للمؤلف
ويعتبر هناك لمحات من شخصية المؤلف بالصبي او ربما فقط بعض الحوادث المتعلقة بطفولته خاصا ان الصورة بالغلاف الخلفي "الفتي علي افريز الدور الأول بالمنزل" هي صورة حقيقية للمؤلف في صباه

عاما قد تشعر مثلي بتشابه بين البطل وبينك شخصيا
خاصا عندما يحكي لك عن الطفولة
عن زملاء الدراسة الذين لا نراهم غير في الدراسة
عن الأخت الصغيرة والعناد , عن الأب وحنيته وتغيره في حالة الأزمات العائلية

و عن الجيران الذين يسافرون ويرحلون ,تاركين فراغ في عالمنا

ولكن تظل البحيرة..عفوا .. المحيط الذي في اخر الحارة ..مهما مر العمر


كلما مر بنا العمر نفقد الكثير من جاذبية الحياة وجمالها ونقائها
بل وكما قالت لي صديقة بنهاية الرواية ستشعر كم أنك جاهلا..وهذا بالفعل ما حدث لي
كما قالت لي جملة 'روح الأطفال قديمة كقدم الزمان' ربما تكون محقة وملائمة لهذه الرواية
تذكرت فعلا جملة لمصطفي محمود إننا نولد بالفطرة بكل العلوم ، وما تعليمنا لمبادئ الحساب مثلا إلا إسترجاع لذاكرتنا الداخلية

لن أكذب وأقول أني قد فهمت رموز القصة أو حتي المغزي النهائي
قد يكون ديني , عن الثالوث المقدس الواحد في الاصل أو التعميد كما شعرت
وقد يكون علمي..وقد يكون مجرد خيال ..لم أفهم كل رموزها جيدا بالرغم من قراءتها مرتين
ولكني لن أقيمها مثلا مثل كافكا علي الشاطئ
لأنها فعلا أعجبتني وأمتعتني بشكل كبير ومتكامل برغم من غرائبيتها

علي الأقل شعرت بتوحد مع شخصية البطل..في حبه وعشقه للكتب الصديق الوحيد المخلص تماما
ظللت منتظرا أن أكبر ...عفوا .. أن يكبر البطل كي أفهم
ولكني عن��ما كبرت...أكتشفت إني لن أعرف كما عرفت وعلمت في الصغر
وندمت اني كبرت..ورجعت أعيد قراءة الرواية مرة اخري كطفلا

لا استطيع وصف كل ما شعرت به وقتها..لكنها فعلا تستحق القراءة
رواية عجيبة .. صاخبة..وهادئة
واستمتعت بها فعلا وذلك المزيج بين الخيال والواقع

ولمست فعلا مشاعري بنهايتها

لذلك أرشحها لك..إذا ما أردت ان تعيش قليلا بعقل صبي في السابعة
لتغوص معه في البحيرة
في المحيط

المحيط الذي بأخر الحارة

محمد العربي
من 12 يونيو 2015
إلي 14 يونيو 2015
وقراءة ثانية في 18 يونيو 2015
الريفيو تم في 24 يونيو 2015
Profile Image for Rebecca.
266 reviews280 followers
August 19, 2022
“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren't.”

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.

I adored this novel. Childhood is such a magical thing we're all bound to, and it is a wonder to look at it with adult eves. This is what the book is about: living, observing, creating memories that will inevitably become blurred bits. Being afraid, too. The narrative in the novel is beautiful and effortless. As I read, I felt a warm nostalgic feeling. This is a book you just open and dive in, straight into Lettie's ocean. Be prepared to discover the extraordinary.

There are fairytale vibes mixed with a little bit of uneasy horror. It reads like a weird fever dream that has you question the monsters you feared as a child.

This was my first Neil Gaiman. I am very excited to read more of his works.

Highly Recommend.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,993 followers
April 16, 2014
It was a bunch of made up stuff that was not combined in a believable fashion. Normally when reading a fantasy novel, no matter how outlandish it gets, you believe in the world created by the author. I didn't believe in this world or any of the bizarre, disconnected things he was coming up with. The fact that it is basically unresolved at the end did not help much either.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews38 followers
October 7, 2021
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a 2013 novel by British author Neil Gaiman.

The work follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier.

At the age of 7, the unnamed boy is facing many crises, not the least of which is his parents have let out his room to lodgers in order to raise extra money.

When one lodger commits suicide in the family car, the boy’s life changes in subtle and strange ways.

He meets a family up the road from his home who may or may not be witches.

He coughs up a coin, discovers a duck pond that may be an ocean, and encounters a giant tent-like creature that is dangerous and very ancient.

Throughout the boy’s adventure, his family is completely unaware of the threats around them, forcing the boy to be resourceful and independent of adult help.

The narrator is conscious of the fact he is reminiscing about times long past, and so the reader is kept one step away from directly experiencing the action of the story.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم سپتامبر سال 2015میلادی

عنوان: اقیانوس انتهای جاده؛ نویسنده: نیل گیمن؛ مترجم: فرزاد فرید؛ ویراستار لیلا اوصالی؛ تهران، انتشارات پریان، 1393، در 260ص، شابک 9786007058046؛ موضوع: داستانهای کودکان از نویسندگان بریتانیا- سده 21م

داستان پسری که تنها دوست واقعی او کتابهایش بودند...؛ مردی میانسال، برای شرکت در مراسم یادبودی، به محله‌ ی دوران کودکی‌ خویشتن باز می‌گردد؛ خانه‌ شان از بین رفته است، اما او ناخودآگاه به مزرعه‌ ای که در انتهای جاده قرار دارد، کشانده می‌شود، جایی‌که در هفت‌ سالگی، با دخترکی فراموش‌ نشدنی، به نام «لتی همپستاک»، مادر، و مادر بزرگش آشنا شده بود؛ او که ده‌ ها سال است دخترک را از یاد برده، حالا با نشستن در کنار برکه‌ ای که «لتی» آن را اقیانوس می‌نامید، گذشته‌ های دور را به یاد می‌آورد، گذشته‌ ای که می‌توانست برای هر کس بسیار خطرناک و هولناک باشد، چه برسد به پسر بچه‌ ای هفت‌ ساله...؛

نقل نمونه از متن: (لتی مرا به بیشه ‌ای از درخت‌های فندق در جادهٔ قدیمی برد (فندق‌های دُم‌گربه ‌ای در بهار شاخه‌ های سنگینی دارند) و شاخهٔ کوچکی را کند؛ بعد با چاقویش پوست شاخه را کند، طوری که انگار ده‌هزار بار این‌کار را کرده بود، دوباره آن را برید تا شبیه حرف وای شد؛ بعد چاقو را کنار گذاشت (نمی‌دانم کجا گذاشتش) و دو سر وای را در دو دستش گرفت

به من گفت: «نمی‌خوام طلا پیدا کنم، فقط ازش به‌ عنوان راهنما استفاده می‌کنم؛ به‌نظرم اول باید دنبال یه ...؛ مگسِ‌ گوشت بگردیم؛ یا چیزی آبی‌ ارغوانی و براق»؛

به اطراف نگاه کردم؛ «من که همچین چیزی نمی‌بینم»؛

گفت:‌ «می‌آد»؛

در میان علف‌ها که می‌رفتیم، خیره به اطراف نگاه کردم، مرغی سرخ ‌و قهوه‌ ای داشت کنار جاده، دان می‌خورد، تعدادی ماشین‌آلات زنگ‌زدهٔ کشاورزی، میز پایه‌ خرک چوبی در کنار جاده، و شش دبه ی خالی شیر که روی آن قرار داشت؛ خانه ی روستایی آجرقرمز «همپستاک» را دیدم، که مثل حیوانی در حال ‌استراحت کز کرده، و آرام بود؛ گل‌های بهاری را دیدم؛ گل‌های مینای زرد و سفید، که همه‌ جا را پر کرده بودند، قاصدک‌های طلایی و آلاله، و گل ‌استکانی تنهایی که دیگر فصلش گذشته بود، در سایه‌ های زیر میز پایه‌ خرک که شبنمِ روی آن هنوز داشت می‌درخشید....؛

پرسیدم: «اونه؟»؛

لتی با تایید گفت: «چشمای تیزبینی داری.»؛

به ‌سمت گل‌ استکانی رفتیم؛ وقتی به آن رسیدیم لتی چشم‌هایش را بست؛ بدنش را جلو و عقب می‌برد، عصای چوب ‌فندق را جلو گرفته بود، انگار بدنش نقطهٔ مرکزی ساعت یا قطب‌نما بود، عصا مثل عقربه ‌ای به سمت نیمه ‌شب یا شرقی متمایل بود، که نمی‌توانستم ببینمش؛ ناگهان گفت: «سیاه و نرم»؛انگار داشت چیزی را از دل خواب توصیف می‌کرد

از گل ‌استکانی دور شدیم، و در جاده ‌ای که تصور می‌کردم، راهی شدیم، جاده‌ ای که شاید زمانی جادهٔ رومی‌ها بود.؛ صد قدم در جاده رفته بودیم، نزدیک همان‌ جایی ‌که ماشین مینی متوقف شده بود، که آن را پیدا کرد: تکه ‌ای پارچهٔ سیاه که در سیم‌ خاردار گیر کرده بود

لتی به آن نزدیک شد؛ دوباره با عصای چوب ‌فندق که جلو گرفته بود، و دوباره با چرخش‌های آرام.؛ بعد با قطعیت گفت: «قرمز؛ خیلی قرمز؛ از اون طرف»؛

با هم به سویی که اشاره کرده بود رفتیم.؛ در آن‌سوی علفزار، به میان ردیفی از درختان رفتیم؛ من که مجذوب شده بودم، گفتم: «اون‌جا» جسد حیوان بسیار کوچکی ـ ظاهراً موش‌آبی ـ روی خزه ‌های سبز افتاده بود؛ سر نداشت، و خون تازه موی او و سطح خزه را لک کرده بود، خیلی سرخ بود

لتی گفت: «حالا، از این‌جا به بعد دست من رو بگیر؛ ول نکن» و ...)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
August 24, 2020
Everything you need to know about "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is right there in the title! The Ocean it alludes to is deep (fathom-deep as the true meanings of family & love & death); blue (icy like the Coraline's motherspider antagonist-- the demonic Nanny McPhee in the middle of the story; cold like the rigidity of death, the panic of succumbing to childhood traumas); vast (like the leitmotifs spread out in elegant splendor along the narrative, tokens of the writer's impressive & grand imagination), with suds atop (the frivolity and juxtaposition of childhood elements with the supernatural positively effervesce) but much darker & stranger as the composites of the undertow sometimes reach upward, showing us the complex nature of human souls.

It's a true achievement.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
April 28, 2015
Can a pond being an ocean? Sure! Why not?


Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside.

Once you can get to accept that a pond likely can be a whole ocean, you will then enjoy this wonderful book.

I think that Neil Gaiman, the author, was a genius even deciding the length of the book.

Sure, the initial intention was to make a short story that ended inton being a novel, but at 181 pages of length, it's most likely a novella.

However, that's the beauty of the concept.

Can a book being a library? Mmh...

Since, in these 181 pages, you have a fairy tale, a horror story, a family drama, even adventure, humor, philosophy, etc...


A story only matters, I suspect, to the extent that the people in the story change.

Neil Gaiman can accomplish so much more in just 181 pages than other authors in 700 plus pages.

A big book isn't a guarantee of being any good.

A short book can be as much fantastic, if not more.

Even it's more respectful being able to create a so rich story in so few pages than having 700 plus pages and not resolving anything.

Sometimes people can think that only thick books deserve respect and don't get me wrong, there are many thick books indeed worthy of respect, but the quantity of written pages isn't a certification that any book is indeed really good.

And certainly there are also bad small books too.

But I can tell you that...

...this is a small book AND it's reallly good!


Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside.

This is a story where I can assure you that I was so scared at some moments than in other books clearly labeled as horror, and I was so astounded with the magic here than in other books clearly labeled as fantasy.

Even if you know some of Neil Gaiman's influences when he was a kid, you will be glad to see them here in a way or other.

Even if you read really carefully you will get to know about where certain other writers got some ideas for their own insanely famous books, letting clear that sometimes author's originality is just a matter of reader's ignorance.

Highly recommended!

Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,476 followers
July 18, 2019
This book is ALIVE

Neil Gaiman's axiom-twisting novel reads like a modern-day fairytale.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was recommended to me by so many Goodreaders that it became impossible to ignore.

New to Gaiman, I was quickly surprised at how easily he retains childhood memories and then scatters them into the furrows of his work.
The narrative flowed smoothly and reading became effortless, which is always a good sign: the author has a lean writing style and hyperbole was kept to a minimum. The genius was in its simplicity.

The story is told from a bookish (and unworldly) boy's perspective, leading me to imagine that this is Gaiman himself (the boy's name is never announced, so that's my daft assumption).
His nemesis, Ursula Monkton, has a surname that seemed so out of sync with her Christian name that I immediately assumed it to be a crafty anagram of the author's own choosing (it wasn't), though a quick shuffle of this name within an anagram finder did come up with 'Non-mortal'.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite it being adult-lite.
I felt transported back to my childhood again, a middle-aged man enjoying Brothers Grimm once more.

Gaiman's writing style is, for the most part, understated, but it does become amplified and fanciful when required.
Despite being left wondering if this was a children's book that adults could read, or an adult book that children could read, I had such a blast reading it.

It was altogether quirky, quaint and magical, but (er, sorry to say) I'd rather have read it when I was a child.
Hence the two-star deduction. Sorry Gaiman fans! : (

I'm wondering if previous readers of this book can help me?
At the beginning of chapter three, the narrator has won twenty-five pounds on the Premium Bonds. His mother puts this into his Post Office account. He then announces that he is 'thirteen pounds and eleven shillings richer than he was before'.
Am I missing something? I'm either being incredibly stupid, or there's a glaring error in this passage? (More likely the former).
If anyone does know the answer, could they please enlighten me? Thank you very much.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
June 23, 2013
While in his home town for a funeral, a middle aged man drives to the site of his parents' former home and visits visits the farm at the end of the road, where he remembers some curious events from when he was seven...

First off, I'll get the gripes out of the way. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is marketed as Gaiman's first adult novel since Anansi Boys. It feels a lot more like a young adult novel, more akin to the Graveyard Book or Coraline than American Gods. Secondly, it's only 175 pages long. In and of itself, that's fine, but with a whopping 25.99 price tag, it's kind of a gouge.

Gripes aside, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a pretty cool book. Gaiman does a masterful job at portraying the nameless lead character, a seven year old boy who befriends at odd eleven-year old girl named Lettie, who may or may not be as old as the universe, and her mother and grand mother. Maiden, mother, and crone remember the Old Country, which sank, or the really Old Country, which blew up.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, like a lot of Neil Gaimain work, deals with dreams, the effect of belief on reality, and forgotten things, like things that every kid knows and every adult has forgotten.

There's not a lot I can say without giving away the best bits. Gaiman has a way of making his young adult books way scarier than his adult ones and this one falls into that category. Urusula and the hunger birds were both pretty creepy, as was what happened with the boy's foot.

That's about all I can say. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a really quick read but full of interesting ideas and great moments. Four out of five. I may elevate it to a five on a reread.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,631 followers
December 15, 2022
من الكمال ان ُتدرك نقصك«لإنك لا تَنجَح أو تَرسُب في كونك إنسانًا يا عزيزي»
في رائعته عن طفولتنا اجمعين؛يصفعنا جايمان بحقائق نتهرب من معرفتها و ذكريات نتناسها و كينونة نرفضها و خيبات تُخجلنا؛و غربة قد نهاجر لكي نتعافي منها
يمنحنا معادلة بسيطة و لكنها حتمية
الخيال+الحلم +المعرفة = الامل
المعرفة+الذكري+التوقعات= الخيبة
أنا على يقينٍ من أني كنتُ بمثابة خيبة أملٍ له*
إنه لم يَطلُب أن يكون له ابن لا هَمَّ له إلَّا الكُتُب، يغيب في عالمه الخاص،بل أرادَ ابنًا يفعل ما كان يفعله هو؛*
هل مازلت اريد ان العب؟ *

بطلنا لا اسم له؛ لا اصدقاء له؛ و لا حظ له؛
شغفه الوحيد في كتبه و مجلاته المسلسلة التي يحلق معها لعوالم الاساطير؛ امانه الحقيقي "مثلنا جميعا " في حجرته مع حروف يحلق معها؛ اسرته لا تمنحه تعاطفا يُذكر؛ و تجرفهم ازماتهم المادية و كفاخهم للحفاظ علي مزرعتهم بالريف البريطاني
؛ يفقد طفل السابعة غرفته و امانه ثم يبدا في فقدان براءته مع مصرع قطته "الوحيدة التي تمنحه حضنا يوميا دافئا"و يكمل طريق فقدانه للبراءة برؤيته لجثة المستأجر؛ لتظهر فورا ليتي همبستوك؛ لتعبر به في رحلته الملحمية للنضج
هل زهدت اللعب فعلا؟ ام سأمت اللعب وحيدا؟

الناس لا يتغيرون في السبعين عن جوهرهم في السابعة فطبيعتك الحقة لن تغيرها المعرفة؛ او الاسرة؛ او حتي النكبات؛
هل هذا من حسن الحظ ام نكد الدنيا؟
لكن هل تركت لك طفولتك فرصة لتكتشف ذاتك بالكامل؟
الكِبار يَسلُكون الطُّرُق، أمَّا الأطفال فيَستَكشِفون. الكِبار يقنعون بالسَّير في الطَّريق نفسه مئات المرَّات،
في مطبخ نساء همبستوك يكتشف الصبي طعم الدنيا بمعني الكلمة؛ فما يبقى لنا من مذاقات الطفولة يقود شهيتنا طوال عمرنا دون ان ندرك
و قد اقترن ال همبستوك بالمذاق الفاخر و اللذة الاقصي من الاطعمة؛ و التي ستعيد ذكراها مرارا بطلنا لبابهم؛ لان اهتمامهم بجودة الطعم يرمز في ذهنه دوما لاهتمام يفتقده في بيته

مع ليتي اكتشفنا مع الصبي اننا قادرين علي مواجهة العواصف و الوحوش؛ نحتمي بليتي و نتمسك بيدها حتي يوسوس لنا عقلنا المتسوس لكي نتركها لاي سبب؛
المحيط و ليتي و جيني و الجدة يرمزوا للمعرفة و الزمن و الحكمة الادراكية الناضجة الكلية؛التي لا تتكامل الا عبر مراحل العمر الثلاثة التي يمثلنها معا و التي قد تودي بها دودة واحدة في
رمزية لمخاوف الفانيين من التحلل

هل يصح ان العب؟ ¥

في اطار من الواقعية السحرية ننطلق مع الصديقين في حربهما ضد البرغوثة المتحولة و طيور الجوع:المنظفون و بين السطور نري
كيف تتحول القسوة لوحش يلتهم قلبك و كيف يميته الظلم و التجاهل
كيف تلتهم الخيبات قلبك بشراهة تماما كتلك الطيور التي تستنجد بها لتفنيك
و كيف نجد الراحة في معرفة :الجدوي
جدوي كينونتنا التي قد ندركها للحظة ثم تهرب منا كالطيف المراوغ لنتوق اليها عمرا كاملا
اثناء ركضنا وراء المعرفة و الونس في الطريق الي نهاية الدرب؛ درب المعرفة الذي ينادينا لنعود

هل سيعيد اللعب روحي اليّ؟

هل يروي اثنان نفس القصة ابدا؟
غرائزنا الاساسية تجذبنا دوما لإكمال اللعبة.. و لكن هل نكملها و نحن مرغمين؟
Profile Image for zuza_zaksiazkowane.
378 reviews33.9k followers
October 8, 2021
1.5 Kompletnie książka nie dla mnie. I nawet nie chodzi o docelowego odbiorcę, ale cały ten koncept, abstrakcja i „realizm magiczny” chociaż to raczej żaden realizm a po prostu magia, nie podoba mi się. Nic nie jest wytłumaczone, zadne zasady nie są nam powiedziane, może się wydarzyć zupełnie wszystko o dzieje się nic. Dobrze napisane. To wszystkie plusy jakie mam na temat tej książki. Nie polecam :(
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
September 28, 2022
“I was not scared of anything, when I read my book...”
The Ocean at the End of the Lane ~~ Neil Gaiman


I loved retreating into the comfort of this book, like our young, unnamed hero in “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” often does. Gaiman sweeps through this book’s action breathlessly, without pause for long explanations or justifications. The boy’s point of view is a distinctive Gaiman touch; it is familiar from the way he handled people caught within dreams within The Sandman, but also hauntingly familiar from my own real-life childhood.


Most satisfying is the book’s color and tone, which largely comes from that distant but recognizable childhood place. Typical of Gaiman’s work, it is deeply colorful and imaginative, taking place in a world of unusual creatures and situations, described compellingly and convincingly in a way that makes them feel soundly logical. It solidly captures that old echo of memory, the feeling of being a kid again, in a world of infinite possibility. In the mental space the book inhabits, it’s no wonder the narrator never names himself: He has no sense of discrete identity, no sense of separation from the world around him.


“I’m going to tell you something important,” an 11-year-old named Lettie Hempstock tells the unnamed 7-year-old protagonist of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” & she does. What is it you ask? Read the book …

Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books518 followers
December 31, 2022
My complete review is published at Grimdark Magazine.

Sometime during the course of growing up, we lose that connection to the magic of childhood. It’s a loss of innocence and imagination that seems to happen gradually. By the time we realize it’s gone, it’s too late to recapture. The Ocean at the End of the Lane eloquently captures the wonders of childhood in this surprisingly dark novel from Neil Gaiman.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with the adult narrator returning to his childhood home for a funeral. His childhood memories are rekindled during his visit home, especially in relation to a neighbor girl with whom he played as a child.

Childhood memories have a magical quality to them. Everything seemed bigger as a child, and there seemed to be a touch of magic to the unexplainable phenomena of the world. Is that pond at the end of the lane really an ocean? Or did it just seem that way as a child?

Neil Gaiman is in absolute peak form in this beautifully told story about reconnecting with the magic and imagination of childhood. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told like a fairy tale, because that’s what childhood is, isn’t it?

This is a story of friendship and sacrifice, a story of lost innocence, and a story of the wondrous power of imagination. The narrator gradually discovers that his childhood memories may not be what they seem.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is also surprisingly dark, including a scene where the narrator extracts a magical worm from his foot that will make even the darkest of grimdark fans squirm.

I can’t think of another book that captures the magic of childhood so beautifully, evoking so many emotions of wonder and excitement, of love and loss. Five very enthusiastic stars for this dark and magical masterpiece that is The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews611 followers
January 6, 2014
Update - 7/5
I've been seeing a lot of different responses to my criticisms and I want to make some clarifications about my feelings (Warning: major spoilers)

Original Review
One day perhaps, when I am forty seven years old looking back at my seven year old self, The Ocean at the End of the Lane will hold more appeal for me, but I am not forty seven years old yet. Neil Gaiman's latest book is a beautifully written, haunting paean to lost childhood, but the story itself was just an incredibly trying experience. Gaiman has a lot to say about the innocence and powerlessness of being seven years old, but frankly, I'm still at an age when I refuse to believe I was either of those things when I was seven years old, so while I applaud Gaiman's genius storytelling, I just can't ignore my frustration with the actual story.

What worked for me about The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the presence of Gaiman's trademark qualities that's been praised time and time again. This is the very personal story of a middle aged man, somewhat lost over the years, returning to his childhood home to find himself again and reminisce about the strange events once encountered by his seven year old self, but more than that, Gaiman infuses the story with his surrealist magic that makes every word almost hauntingly beautiful. (Plus some really creepy and fantastic imagery, like with that worm...) Sure, Gaiman never comes out and directly tells us what happened to his narrator (although much can be inferred) or what's real and what isn't, but that's the beauty of the story, the mystery not only emphasizes how memories, especially childhood memories, are not concrete, tangible things but bygone magic, but really also compounds the wistful and somber tone of the story. Purely as a work of writing, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is top notch and modern myth at its best.

What I can't overlook though, is that Gaiman writes the book from the point of view of a middle aged man looking at his childhood through the eyes of his seven year old self, and it just didn’t work for me. As I said, I still remember my childhood quite well, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as anything magical or special, so while I had a vague sense of the emotions Gaiman wanted to convey with his magical words, I don't think I'm at an age when I can fully appreciate the deeper emotions that I'm told are here - everything I felt only worked on an academic level. Rather than being moved by the sadness, the nostalgia, the melancholia, I actually became more and more embittered and jaded as the story progressed, because, although I get Gaiman’s narrator is reflecting back on a neglected childhood and parents who didn’t really understand him, a monster destroys this kid's family, his father abuses him, and I'm sorry, but how Gaiman handled that at least completely irked me.

I know I praised Gaiman for blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, but that for me is also this book's downfall, because either way, whether I accept the events of the book as fact or fantasy, there's just something substantively lacking about Gaiman's narrative. Maybe because he's too focused on the surrealist aspects, maybe because I'm just still too young and can't understand the kind of parent/child interactions Gaiman alludes to, but I hated Gaiman's interpretation of this family. If I took the events as fact veiled by fiction, I think Gaiman tries too hard to appeal to that adult sense of childhood as a sad, innocent time, and just oversimplifies the narrator’s relationship with his father, eventually sweeping the bulk of what happens under a rug, because at the end of the day, has what the monster caused affected anyone in any meaningful way? Not as far as I can tell. And if it's taken as pure fiction? - then the plot is hardly profound at all, but merely your garden variety attack of the evil babysitter.

Twenty odd years from now, when I look back at this review, I suspect I'll probably disagree with much, probably even all, of my criticisms. But for the time being, while childhood doesn't have the emotional appeal for me that Gaiman's capturing, The Ocean at the End of the Lane tries too hard to recapture the nostalgia at the expense of exploring the trauma to the point in parts it almost reads like formulaic horror, while the elements that probably hold the most magic are the ones that I'm probably just too young to appreciate.
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