Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

I had a lot of trouble rating this one. When I first finished it, I remember being very impressed by the ending so I wanted to rate it really high (4.5 stars). However, I decided to give it a day and let it digest, but now I am conflicted. I like to keep my highest book ratings (my 5’s and 4.5’s) for books that I know will stay with me for awhile and I’m still not sure whether or not this one will. Nonetheless though, this story was really good and I’m really glad I picked it up. Here is what this story is about….


Sussex, England. 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, 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.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Will this Story Stay With Me?

As for whether or not this story will stay with me… I guess the only way to find out is with the passing of time. In the meantime though, I don’t want that to be a deciding factor over whether or not YOU should pick this one up. I think this is the perfect book to read if you want a terrifying story that will make you genuinely fearful for the main character. I would suggest reading this around Halloween time because I think that would be fun. So please just know that this was a great book and that I highly recommend it.


I think the biggest thing I got from this book is that there are no limitations in this world! I came to this conclusion from the story and just thinking about how Neil Gaiman’s mind came up with this storyline. Seriously, how in the world?? It kind of makes me wonder if he had some sort of nightmare one night that gave him this idea. I say this because, that’s what this book felt like to me— A nightmare that I might have had as a child (or now too I guess). However, I really shouldn’t have been surprised by this since this is Gaiman’s specialty. This book was whimsical, mystical, terrifying, fairytaleish (not a word), and unique. Man, that’s a lot of adjectives, but honestly I can’t describe the story using less. I have now read his books Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and this one. And I definitely want to read more.


The Feelings I Felt While Reading

I felt a combination of fear, hate, trust, and wonder while reading this. The characters seemed really real and I am only realizing now as I sit down to write this review that the main character didn’t even have a name! That is crazy and I feel so stupid for only realizing this now! I suspect that this was done on purpose in order to make it feel as though the reader is experiencing everything personally and it totally worked! I genuinely felt like I could trust Lettie with my life, that the Hempstocks would keep me safe, that the parents couldn’t be confided in, that Ursula would destroy my happiness, and that I should feel guilty for letting go.


There were a lot of really great quotes in this story and here are some of my favorites:

  • ” 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. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one in the whole wide world.” She thought for a moment Then she smiled. “Except for Granny, of course.”
  • “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.”
  • “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. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”



Author: wordswithbri

Book Blogger

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman”

  1. I read this last year and it creeped me out so much!! But I loved it, lol. I think the only thing for me that kept it from a 5 star rating is that the fantasy aspect of it felt a bit undefined and that made it a little confusing at times. Still, I love how dark and weird this book is. Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely see where you are coming from when you say that it felt a little undefined. We never really got an explanation for why a lot of the things were the way they were. I’d like to believe that he knew more about it, but just didn’t explain because he wanted us to feel just as confused as the main character. Nonetheless though, I loved how dark and weird it was too!! I think that is just how all Gaiman books are haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point! I wonder if it also has to do with the fact that the main character is drawing on childhood memories, so they seem fuzzier and less defined. Hmmm. Either way I still wish it had a bit more substance, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

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