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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  560,816 ratings  ·  54,334 reviews
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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 th ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 181 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by William Morrow Books
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S. K. Pentecost
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ale Whenever you start forgetting how was it like to be a kid. A young teen could read it, but probably wouldn't enjoy it as much as an adult.…moreWhenever you start forgetting how was it like to be a kid. A young teen could read it, but probably wouldn't enjoy it as much as an adult.(less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  560,816 ratings  ·  54,334 reviews

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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 m
Emily May
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic-realism, 2013
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 ad
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 t
(A-) 84% | Very Good
Notes: We make pilgrimage to the landmarks of our childhood, in vain, to revive somehow the magic and wonder of youth.
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
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 w
Sean Barrs
“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 ordin
Will Byrnes
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
Lisa of Troy
Feb 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing
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 ho
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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 no
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 Sta
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
$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
"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 abou
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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....
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 pers
Rebecca (on a review writing break!)
“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,
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 str
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 fe
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.

David Monroe
Feb 07, 2013 marked it as to-read
I want to read this book so much.

Dan Schwent
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 l
Kevin Ansbro
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. T
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. ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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 haunting
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
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)
(view spoiler)
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-own

Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.

Very truly so.

Penning a review for this book is hard, so is the book itself. Complex and intricately sewn together.
No, I am not revealing the plot to you. All I am saying is that this is a different work altogether. And a very, very fine one indeed.

The story weaves childhood memories and nightmares, beliefs and myths into one fragment after another, until the fabric is tight enough to hold the weight of
3 "think I get it...but needed more" stars !

I very much liked this adult fable but not to the extent that many of my real life and Goodreads friends did.

At times I was completely absorbed and mesmerized by the narrative and other times I felt that the cosmology was inconsistent, random and a tad repetitive. I intuit that I understood the esthetic that Gaiman was attempting but often to me it was a miss rather than a hit. The writing was beautiful, rich and full of complex emotion but it often fe
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An abso-fucking-lutely amazing book!
It fed my imagination to its fullest!

‘You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.’

Cannot describe this story enough for it is supposed to have no boundaries.

It tells of an independent fantasy with indescribable characters that have nothing and everything to do with anything or whatsoever!

Brilliantly written!
5 stars, without any doubt!
Melissa ~ Bantering Books
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

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 chil
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