Only a duck pond: A review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane (A Novel Concepts review)

Neil Gaiman is an incredible author. He’s an incredible storyteller. That isn’t really an opinion. It’s more of a known fact. He can create worlds within this world, and make us almost believe it’s real. He can create characters that seem like they’re on the edges of society, but really, they’re just like us.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no exception.

The books opens, and ends, with a man at a crossroads in his life. We don’t know his name. We don’t know what he looks like. He can be any man. And that’s part of the pull.

The rest of the book is him remembering a strange incident from his childhood. One that he could possibly be remembering all wrong. Or one that he doesn’t quite have all the puzzle pieces for.

We have the three Hempstock women: Lettie, 11; Ginnie, her mother; and Old Mrs. Hempstock, the matriarch. The women live at the end of the lane from our main character. Lettie calls their duck pond the ocean, one that they came across when they left the old country.

I’m not spoiling anything for you here. That much is on the first page.

I’m going to leave out the rest of the plot, because that’s where the powerful stuff is. In 178 pages, Gaiman manages to make you feel more connected to four characters than most long, massive novels could even attempt to do. The plot means different things to different people, from what I gathered from Twitter before I actually read the book. Once I finally got around to reading it, I couldn’t stop. I had chills. I was on the edge of tears. No, this isn’t the first time a book has done that to me, but it was the first time that I felt like something clicked inside me while reading it.

It deals with guilt. It deals with fear. It deals with strength. It covers all the bases it should.

While a quick read, The Ocean at the End of the Lane mangages to evoke so many different emotions. It’s haunting in all the best ways, and makes you think about what it really means to live. I give it 10 out of 10 varmints.


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