Book Review: The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
Plot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): 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 touch-paper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is some characters. The Hempstocks, the women prominently featured in this book, were amazing. Old Mrs. Hempstock and Ginnie Hempstock were so motherly and caring, you would want them in your family. Lettie Hempstock is a very brave and wise heroine. While the narrator of the book is someone to care about, he was hard to truly connect to because he is never addressed by name.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book is Gaiman’s writing style. Although I’m used to it, it is always something I appreciate. He has a way of describing magic that makes you really feel it. Also, he does a good job making a story something anyone can connect to. Furthermore, some of his sentences are memorable because they honestly reflect on something. A favorite goes, “I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
Despite these good aspects, the lack of a plot resolution kept this book from being really enjoyable. The reason for this is that the purpose of the magic is never explained. Why is there an ocean at the end of the lane? Where did it come from? Without these questions answered, it feels like the reader is missing something.
Gaiman has crafted an engaging story, but he has written better works. However, this book might be enjoyable to teens and adults who love fantasy. At only 178 pages, it is also a decent summer read. If you enjoyed Gaiman’s Coraline, then feel free to give this book a try.