Fifty Books, 365 Days. Book Thirty Three – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Date started: August 21st

Date finished: August 24th

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a story of childhood. It starts rather dark, with the suicide of a lodger, and through our nameless narrator, we are told the story of how this suicide unleashes monsters upon the world, and how it comes down to a woman old enough to remember the start of the universe, and a young girl with an ocean the size of a duck pond (at the end of a lane) to stop them.

That description sounds really short and flippant, but there’s not a lot else to the overall plot. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is indeed about that, but it’s also about the magic of childhood, and how time affects our memories, and it’s a story about storytelling.

Honestly? I hate writing three star reviews. With a one or two star review, I can point to things I definitively disliked. With a four or five star review I can gush a lot and be embarrassing. But a three star review is the middle of the road.

And to me, that’s what The Ocean at the End of the Lane is. It’s nice. It’s perfectly pleasant. It approaches enchanting a couple of times but doesn’t quite reach it for me in the way that, say, Harry Potter or The Thief of Always did.

There is some good stuff in here. The interactions between the narrator and Lettie had me reminiscing about my own childhood a lot. And the evil babysitter Ursula Monkton made a perfectly cruel antagonist. I liked how it played around with childhood fears of parents being turned against their children somehow. But even with all that, it just never resonated with me.

Maybe I just don’t get along with Gaiman’s writing. I put down American Gods nearly 100 pages in, never to pick it up again. Of his two Doctor Who episodes, I loved one and tolerated the other. I’ve yet to read a single volume of Sandman. But enough people do love him that I think the issue might be with me as opposed to his writing.

This review is really short, and I’m sorry for that, but I genuinely don’t know what to say. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is fine. I liked it. Try it out, you might love it. And at 250 pages, it can be read in a single sitting.

Further adventures in fantasy Book Reviews:

The Stand by Stephen King (spoilers)
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

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