The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman As with the pattern of previous Neil Gaiman books I’ve read, Ocean features an average male protagonist who wouldn’t be particularly interesting, but for the magical realm he’s introduced to and the ensuing adventure. But, while the other books adhere firmly to this fairly specific pattern, Ocean quickly and mesmerizingly walks down the lane into an entirely different story. Well, not an entirely different story, but this time, the story of the man quickly becomes the story of the boy he once was and the women he met in the house at the end of the lane, including one Lettie Hempstock, a girl just a few years older than his seven years, who takes him to a pond, only to reveal an ocean.

Thus far, I’ve found Gaiman’s books to be dark but whimsical. Even the evil characters have a sense of humour and are quick with their wit, but Ocean was very melancholy and I felt connected with it far more deeply than I have the others. I thought Gaiman did an excellent job of telling the story through the eyes of a little boy who becomes bound to a frightening creature who can control his family with her desire to make them happy. The boy’s sense of hopelessness and fear and his bravery are palpable, making the story very engaging.

The men in Gaiman’s other books tend to annoy me with their refusal to believe in the magical things presented to them. Here, a child who adores books and takes so many cues from them, willingly accepts the unbelievable, both good and evil. And when he finds it in himself to fight, it feels far more real than the grown ups who suddenly realize their role as the hero. Perhaps it helps that this book doesn’t require the main character to valiantly save the girl; he has to fight to save himself.

I suspect that the men in Gaiman’s other works are loosely based on himself. Upon reading Ocean’s acknowledgements, I came to feel like this was far more personal to the author than anything else he’s written. That the little boy was far more himself than any other character he’s brought to life. He does state that the family in the story is nothing like his own and this really is a work of fiction, but his comment about the Hempstocks being with him all his life is what really struck me and made me appreciate Ocean all the more.

See more reviews at
The BiblioSanctum