Ocean at the End of the Lane

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book - 2013
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It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Publisher: New York, NY :, William Morrow,, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062255655
Branch Call Number: FIC GAIM
Characteristics: 181 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

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Jul 10, 2020

The book reminded me of Gaiman's "Coraline" (especially the antagonist) but for an adult audience. Suspenseful or frightening situations were delightful in this novel; one incident of violence carried out against the main character was absolutely gripping. As Gaiman loves to do, the mythology of the novel is never fully explained. There are some ancient, magical characters and we are given the briefest window into their existence - but that is all you need for this story.

A quick and easy read for adults and some young adults who enjoy mythic fiction.

Jun 26, 2020

This book is narrated by a man in flashback to one summer of his youth when he meets a girl, Lettie Hempstock. He meets her after their boarder, a miner commits suicide. The miner’s death sets in motion a string of events in which people start finding money in odd places. Lettie takes the boy into a strange world that seems to occupy the same space as her family’s far. However, they are unpleasant creatures that live there. The boy unwittingly brings one back with him. The creature masquerades as housekeeper, Ursula Monkton who begins to take over his family and threaten him. The boy’s father does not believe him when he tells him that Ursula Monkton is a monster, and instead turns on him. The boy turns to Lettie Hempstock, her mother, and grandmother for help.

This book is well written and the characters are well developed. The setting is also described in vivid detail. Neil Gaiman is once again able to transport the reader into one of his strange worlds that seemingly occupies the same space as the real world, just slightly out of reach. This book definitely has appeal for teens as well as readers of all ages. It has a mix of fantasy, adventure and mystery, and is also chillingly eerie at times. The book is available on audio-book via the Hoopla App and is also available on E-Book and audio-book on the Libby App.

MAH Payne, Librarian

AnnabelleLee27 Mar 25, 2020

A short, dark, mythic, and atmospheric novel. While told from a child's perspective (although the narrator is now a grownup), the book is definitely for adults.Thought provoking, melancholic and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mar 08, 2020

A man visits his childhood street while in the area for a funeral. He drives down the end of the lane and finds himself at a farm he used to visit as a child. Memories of his childhood flood back to him, including a horrible nanny, a girl, and a pond he once believed to be an ocean.

4/5: This book is surreal; lots of weird and unexplained stuff kinda just happens. However, Gaiman's writing is so immersive and mesmerizing. The book explored themes of childhood and adulthood in a gentle way. I also appreciate all the female characters in the story. It was a short read that was easy to read quickly. I really enjoyed it.

There are a lot of questions in this book that are left open ended, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. This book had a very vague and dreamlike nature to it, but I think that it works with what this book is. Essentially, this book is told like a flashback in the perspective of a child, so it makes sense that our protagonist doesn't know all the details (personally I think it would be cool if Gaiman released a sequel of the protagonist as an adult coming back to understand what was happening). I wished the book had explained things more explicitly and had established more concrete characters and a firm plot. However, I still enjoyed it as is. I love Lettie. Her wisdom was apparent throughout the novel. I love how immersive the writing is. A lot goes on and I could not give a summary that does this book justice, but the plot is probably the weakest part of this story. It's a very character-based story, and personally I like those things. I simply enjoyed how digestible this book was. It was a fun read.

What I Take Away: Gaiman is a great writer. Childhood shouldn't be forgotten. Sometimes it's ok to let out our inner child. Adults don't have all the answers. Adults are really kids at heart. Children don't have as much say as adults (but I suppose that's obvious). Details enrich our lives.

JCLHeatherC Feb 20, 2020

I read this when it came out years ago but hearing the author read it I picked up on things I missed the first time around. I think I would enjoy Neil Gaiman reading the yellow pages to be honest.

ArapahoePatrick Jan 19, 2020

This is a fantastic reflection on what it is like to grow up, and how relationships shift with you.

TSCPL_AlexH Dec 20, 2019

How I love this story. A friend said it best “I envy people getting to read this story for the first time”. This book taps into the perception and understanding of a little boy. It is childhood in its essence. How do I talk about this book without giving away anything that makes it so wonderful? As Joanne Harris says, “Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.” And The Ocean at the End of the Lane has swallowed me up.

Dec 19, 2019

Having struggled with other books by this author, this came as a pleasant surprise. With a quasi-Harry Potter quality, the story is evocative, engaging and immersive. A novella, its the type of book you read on one or two sittings, though I read it all at once. Gaiman has mastered fantasy, and the use of fairytale elements as metaphor are prolific. It's light reading, fun, well paced and highly enjoyable. It's also shifted my perception of the author, so I'll likely choose other books he's written with hopes they're on par with this one!

Nov 21, 2019

Fantastic read and dark/creepy at times (this is coming from a 34yr old lol). Neil Gaiman’s writing is always haunting, magical, and beautiful. I don’t know what I can say for the story except that it’s very well done and was a very fast read.

Nov 18, 2019

A wonderfully immersive story. A modern fairy tale, in which I found myself repeatedly rapt.

My first Neil Gaiman, despite having long admired him from afar. Very much looking forward to more.

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ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

Books were safer than other people anyway.

ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.

ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

ArapahoeMaryA Jan 28, 2017

Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.

I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.

Jun 13, 2015

"You don't pass or fail at being a person, dear." -- Ginnie Hempstock

roropan Jun 18, 2014

Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

JCLChrisK Sep 23, 2013

I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody.

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Add Age Suitability
IndyPL_JosephL Dec 20, 2018

IndyPL_JosephL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 05, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Feb 01, 2017

bcornelius thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

ArapahoeRich Aug 04, 2016

ArapahoeRich thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 24, 2015

michelle_raddie thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 13, 2015

DouglasLinn thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jan 30, 2015

newanto thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

roropan Jun 18, 2014

roropan thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

carterasm1 Jan 08, 2014

carterasm1 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 07, 2013

pagetraveler thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 99

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Add a Summary
Jun 13, 2015

An unnamed protagonist returns to his childhood home upon his fathers funeral and recounts a fantastic tale of imagination and magic about the Hempstock's farm. The Hempstocks were his neighbors growing up and he befriended the 11 year old Lettie. It turns out the Hempstocks are much more than neighbors.

mvkramer Oct 21, 2013

A man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, and suddenly finds himself remembering the strange events of his childhood -- when he was seven, and met Lettie Hempstock. That year, an unfortunate man killed himself on Lettie's property, and unwittingly released something ancient and malevolent upon the village. When the eldritch entity threatens our narrator's family, Lettie promises to keep him safe. But at what cost?

AnneDromeda Aug 02, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s *The Ocean at the End of the Lane* is a fairy tale for adults in the best possible sense. It’s incredibly lightweight – at only 178 pages, Gaiman has stripped down his prose and left a spare, stunning myth that can be read in one stop on the beach blanket. Indeed, you may find you need the sunbeams – if this dark, bewitching tale doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you likely have no pulse.

The book opens with an unnamed man returning to his childhood home after the death of a family member. In his grief, he’s drawn to the farm of a childhood friend named Lettie Hempstock. He winds up seated next to a pond they called the ocean, lost in childhood memories.

He had been a shy, quiet child who loved to read and had few friends. Soon after he turned seven, a boarder living in the narrator’s home took his own life. After discovering the body, the narrator is comforted by the Hempstocks, a family of remarkable women who live at the end of his lane.

Gaiman has created something special with the Hempstocks. Though they’re plainly supernatural, Gaiman makes no effort to explain what they are beyond imbuing them with spiritual elements from the Maiden/Mother/Crone trinity found in neopagan mythology. This lack of explanation makes them all the more powerful – as Gaiman well knows, a story’s real power lies in the unknown.

The narrator begins to bond with 11-year-old Lettie Hempstock. She keeps his company as a series of strange events unfold, all seemingly related to the suicide of the opal miner who boarded with the narrator’s family. Lettie takes the narrator on an errand to banish the being causing the trouble. This errand alone contains all the creepy beauty and wild atmosphere Gaiman’s known for, but it’s just the beginning. The being follows the unnamed young protagonist back home and manifests itself as an evil nanny named Ursula Monkton. She dedicates herself to trapping and enslaving the young boy.

Gaiman lets the story of an evil nanny tormenting the painfully young abandoned narrator unfold as simply as any children’s tale. This makes the powerful, luminous spirituality of the tale’s final showdown all the more profound. The only words to capture the dark beauty and wonder of the final pages of *The Ocean at the End of the Lane* are the ones Gaiman has already used, so you’ll just have to read it yourself. You won’t regret it – this is hands-down the most moving book I’ve read this year. Like any fairy tale, it’s a fiction for the ages, meant for telling the truth.

Jul 07, 2013

A man returns to his boyhood home and remembers events of the past that have been lost to him.


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