The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman (book review).

October 28, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘The Ocean At The End Of The Lane’ by Neil Gaiman is narrated by a middle-aged man whose name is never mentioned who, after a funeral, drives to his childhood home and remembers his life as a seven year-old and his friendship with Lettie Hempstock.


After a opal miner with money problems commits suicide in the narrator’s father’s car, he ends up befriending the Hempstocks, who live in the farm at the end of the lane. Old Mrs. Hempstock, Mrs. Ginnie Hempstock and Lettie Hempstock are ancient god-like women who were present when the world was created. When the stranger’s suicide awakens a dangerous creature and Lettie, who appears to be twelve, takes the narrator with her to quiet the creature and protect their land. The narrator’s inexperience ends up costing him as he inadvertently brings the creature back home with him, where it takes the form of a beautiful woman who charms his entire family and becomes their housekeeper.

The young narrator, knowing it was his fault that the creature is now free in their world, turns to the Hempstocks for help after his family under the creature’s control will not believe him. With their age-old wisdom and magic, the Hempstocks help the narrator right his wrong.

Gaiman lets you see the story through the eyes of a child, who is quick to believe and accept things they don’t understand, such as the Hempstocks’ identities, the magic they wield and even the pond that is an ocean at the back of the Hempstock farm. The narrator, as an adult, having forgotten the truth of what really happened is still drawn to the Hempstocks to remember how complicated his world truly is.

‘The Ocean At The End Of The Lane’ is beautifully written. It’s easy to relate to the young narrator, an introverted bookworm who learns his life lessons from books, until he meets the Hempstocks. His fear and guilt when facing the creature is palpable and his fortitude when he tries to rectify his mistakes is admirable and heart-wrenching. I enjoyed the folk tale-like nature of the book and can’t wait to see more of the Hempstocks in the future as Gaiman has promised.

Supreethi Selvam

October 2016

(pub: Headline, 2014. 255 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4722-0034-1)

check out websites: http://www.headline.co.uk/ and www.neilgaiman.co.uk


Category: Books, Fantasy

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