Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I know they tell you not to judge a book by it’s cover, but I just have such a hard time not doing that. Some book covers just call to you, and some book titles just whisper in your ear until you give in and pick them up to read. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of them. The dark cover with the light center drags you into it and the girl who seems to be floating (or maybe drowning) in the depths compels you to pick it up. Maybe it’s all those blue hues that I am so particularly attracted to. And that title! It just rolls off your tongue and conjures all kinds of images to your mind.

I love the way Neil Gaiman writes. His words just seem to be so deep without being pretentious, or completely incomprehensible. While this is one of his adult novels, because it is written from the childhood memories of the adult narrator, it has a very childlike fantasy feel to it, that really helps you believe in all of the unbelievable things that happen in the book. Things are so much easier to believe in as a child, and even when you think back on them as an adult, for that moment that you are thinking about it, you can believe again. And with this novel being only 178 pages, it is a short read that is not in the least intimidating.

The story reminds me of a dark, fairy tale or myth. Definitely not something you would read as a bedtime story to a child as it really was quite creepy in many ways. As an adult, the narrator visits his childhood home and makes his way to one of his childhood friend, Lettie’s, home and shares his memory of his short friendship with her and how she disappeared. The whole story is shrouded in mystery with nothing ever being completely revealed, even toward the end, however, the story does not feel unfinished or leave you feeling like you need or want more. Gaiman does an excellent job of letting you come to your own conclusions about what is really happening in the story without giving it all away.

I really enjoyed reading this book and am so glad I finally read it as it has been on my To Be Read list for quite a while now. I have read other books by Neil Gaiman such as Good Omens, Coraline, and Stardust (Coraline and Stardust have also been turned into fantastic movies!) and really want to read some more of his work. I think I will have to add American Gods and Neverwhere to my To Be Read list now. Have you read any of Neil Gaiman’s books? Which ones do you recommend?