Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane | Newbery and Beyond

I had forgotten how scary Neil Gaiman’s books can be!  This book was compulsively readable, but parts of it terrified me.  It captured in less than 200 pages a whole other world–I was fascinated by the Hempstock women and their farm.

The plot of this book is hard to explain, but I’ll try to provide a short summary: The main character (I don’t remember his name, and to be honest, I’m not sure it was ever given), a middle aged man, returns to his childhood town for a funeral, and he finds himself making his way back to the Hempstock farm, where his friend Lettie used to live.  As he sits by the pond on their farm–one that Lettie had called the ocean–he begins to remember strange events from when he was a seven-year-old boy.  Everything started with a man’s suicide on the Hempstocks’ land, and from there Lettie and her mother and grandmother show the little boy a terrifying dimension, closer and more real than he could ever have imagined.  Through an unfortunate mistake, things from this other world begin seeping into our own.

I can’t say much else without spoiling the plot, and I’m not sure I could anyway.  Neil Gaiman has the ability to make unimaginable things and places seem real, and it sucked me in even when I didn’t understand exactly what was happening.  Some of the things that happen in the book are genuinely frightening–not just to a seven year old, but to me also–and some of the things are disturbing only for adults (the little boy catches a glimpse of his father having an affair).  Needless to say, although the book focuses on the little boy and his eleven-year-old friend Lettie, this is not a book for children.  Not in the slightest.

If you’re looking for something magical, frightening, unusual, beautifully written, and easy to read (I finished this book in less than three hours), The Ocean at the End of the Lane is for you.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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