The Ocean At The End Of The Lane — A Review


The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel byNeil Gaiman

I had to find out the hard way so consider this a warning. Picking up The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and reading the first few pages will mean you will not be able to put it down until you are through. It will fill every spare moment and fill the full ones with anticipation for getting back to it. This is what happened to me yesterday and it was worth every word.

Such books are rare. Ones that are just the right length and compelling enough to read in a day. Rarer still are the ones that at once make you wish they had not ended so soon, yet are exactly as long as they should be. I wish the world were filled with books such as this.

The story is told through the memory of a seven year old protagonist. He is bookish and lonely. Naturally curious and suspicious. More at home in the worlds beyond and apart from ours than he is in his own. The story is told through these eyes. These are eyes we understand because we have all, as children, seen through them. Equally perplexed and powerless against a reality we all too often wished were fiction. Yet, all the while, what we simply long for is the comfort and familiarity and safety that we idealize as ‘home’ (whether or not our home meets this ideal). It is the only place any of us, ultimately, wish to be.

This is a book about going home.

It is lovingly written. But, perhaps even more importantly, it is beautifully edited. You can tell that great care and polish went into the editing process. I know that at least several drafts were shared among trusted and knowledgeable friends who provided feedback during it’s creation. As such, every word is where it needs to be. There is never too much or not enough. Always just enough to tell the tale and swiftly move the reader’s imagination along.

This is a book I know I will read over and over again. Perhaps I will find something new. Maybe, I’ll feel something that I did not feel the first time or see something in my mind’s eye that I overlooked. But perhaps, like the protagonist, I will keep returning to a place that felt like home to me, looking for myself between the pages.