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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

Quick take

A fantasy story from a child's eye with adult wisdom; a book both light-hearted and dark at the same time.


A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out.

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Why I love it

Magical. Scary. Wonderful. Weird. A fantasy story from a child’s eye with adult wisdom; a tale of real monsters and imaginary people; a book both light-hearted and dark at the same time. The publisher calls it 'œas delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.' It’s a book that defies description, other than to say that it’s the kind of story you wish would last just a couple pages longer so you can linger in its strangely compelling world. If you only read one fantasy novel this year, it’s worth considering this short 2013 gem from one of the great masters of our time.

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Member ratings (1,019)

  • DylanRae M.

    Seattle, WA

    Very quick read, yet in no way does it feel that way in the end. Cram packed with details, curious plot events. A happy balance of dark, mysterious and adventurous! The best Neil intro one could ask f

  • Katarina H.

    Chandler, AZ

    This book was strange but it was highly intriguing. It kept me entertained the entire time I was reading it. I never found myself bored or even annoyed by the characters. All in all this was a reall

  • Cristine D.

    New Brockton, AL

    A man does a flashback to his childhood and what transpired at the odd house down the street from him childhood home after a man committed suicide. Lettie and her family became protectors and friends.

  • Kassandra G.

    Beacon, NY

    This book makes you question if the narrator is truly experiencing incredible things or if he's just muddling childhood trauma & innocence with an overactive imagination. A beautiful book all the way.

  • Mee X.

    Sacramento, CA

    It was not what I had expected but it turned out to be a great story & a quick read. There were moments I found myself chuckling, then moments where my anxiety took over! It was entertaining for sure.