The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A Novel

79%

91 Critic Reviews

Gaiman...has crafted a fresh story of magic, humanity, loyalty, and memories “waiting at the edges of things,” where lost innocence can still be restored as long as someone is willing to bear the cost.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...

 

About Neil Gaiman

See more books from this Author
Neil Gaiman is the nationally bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, the only book ever to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie Medals. He lives near Minneapolis, MN. You can visit him online at www.mousecircus.com.Michael Reaves is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and novelist who has written, story-edited, or produced nearly four hundred teleplays for various series. He lives in California. You can visit him online at www.michaelreaves.com.
 
Published June 18, 2013 by William Morrow. 259 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 07 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Ocean at the End of the Lane
All: 91 | Positive: 82 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Mar 14 2013

Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it’s a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Benjamin Percy on Jun 27 2013

His mind is a dark fathomless ocean, and every time I sink into it, this world fades, replaced by one far more terrible and beautiful in which I will happily drown.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Joridson on Sep 09 2013

What is certain is that much of this book feels raw and exposed. Yes, there's a certain amount of goth-lite decoration, but then, the thing we all know about goths is that they feel deeply.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by AS Byatt on Jul 03 2013

There is a peculiar pleasure about reading as an adult what gripped the child's imagination. I wonder now what I imagined about the world of The Three Musketeers, or Walter Scott's medieval tales, or The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I inhabited passionately at the age of the seven-year-old in this story.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Edward Docx on Jun 22 2013

...Gaiman's intelligence and his skill as a writer...are best mobilised in the adult writing he purports to eschew; his account of real human drama, relationships, sensibility, emotions, thought. And so I'd love for him one day to stop with all these ragged tent-presences and just open his veins and write something powerful about human beings...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by AS Byatt on Jul 03 2013

I was somewhat surprised to see that The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been discussed as a book for adults which children can also read...I realised that...it was my childhood self who settled into this story.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Edward Docx on Jun 23 2013

You'd be right in surmising that I find all these flapping tent-monsters and worms in your feet and beautiful governesses slightly gauche...I also find Gaiman much more interesting as a writer than this somewhat laboured "mythic" story permits.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Apr 01 2013

Gaiman...has crafted a fresh story of magic, humanity, loyalty, and memories “waiting at the edges of things,” where lost innocence can still be restored as long as someone is willing to bear the cost.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Bruce G. Smith on Dec 04 2013

Gaiman’s books always contain humor, and the The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different. Even when things look bleak, the characters don’t take the danger seriously. It’s a mere 178 pages, and a quick read.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Fitz on Jul 14 2013

This was one more journey with Gaiman I would happily take again. All of his books leave me asking questions and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was no different.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by ManoflaBook.com on Jul 11 2013

This is a good book, well written and tight – the novel should get 5 stars and be on everyone’s “must read” list just so they could study the structure, tone, delivery, drama and focus.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Annalee Newitz on Jun 17 2013

This is a fairly short novel in a genre known for its doorstoppers...and that's to its benefit: The story is tightly plotted and exciting. Reading it feels a lot like diving into an extremely smart, morally ambiguous fairy tale.

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Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by James Lovegrove on Jun 14 2013

In prose as delicate and diaphanous as a cobweb, and with a painstakingly precise use of symbolism, Gaiman traces one boy’s journey from innocence, through fear and regret, to experience. In doing so, he traces all of our journeys, and beautifully.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by William Alexander on Jun 19 2013

...in “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”; he summons up childhood magic and adventure while acknowledging their irrevocable loss, and he stitches the elegiac contradictions together so tightly that you won’t see the seams.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on Jun 17 2013

...that distant but recognizable childhood place...is deeply colorful and imaginative, taking place in a world of unusual creatures and situations, described compellingly and convincingly in a way that makes them feel soundly logical.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Mark Medley on Aug 08 2013

...The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not only for adults who remember being children, but, perhaps more importantly, for those who’ve forgotten.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Darren Franich on Jun 14 2013

Unfortunately, the protagonist is also the novel's least compelling character. As a coming-of-age reverie, Ocean is a fitfully interesting trifle, but you're constantly catching glimpses of a more interesting, darker, stranger tale farther down the lane.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Jun 20 2013

The novel never really delves into the effect of being subsumed by evil on otherwise banal people. But just like the duck pond Lettie called her ocean, the poignant story offers more depth than its slender page count might suggest.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Casey Lee on Jun 17 2013

Can we ever recapture our childhoods? No, we cannot. A book that reminds us how to see the world through a child's eyes may be as close as we can get. And, according to the critics, that seems to be the gift that Gaiman is offering in his latest book.

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Ray Olson on Sep 13 2013

And don’t worry about that “for adults” designation: it’s a matter of tone. This lovely yarn is good for anyone who can read it.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Brian Truitt on Jun 15 2013

Gaiman is a master of creating worlds just a step to the left of our own. You'll be glad you took a dip in his immersive Ocean.

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The Boston Globe

Good
Reviewed by Ethan Gilsdorf on Jun 29 2013

Gaiman truly excels when he lets his kid be a kid and observes the boy’s weird dream logic. How the boy imports the supernatural into his life to explain things he cannot fathom.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Becky Meloan on Jul 08 2013

Gaiman’s writing evokes the fear and powerlessness of childhood, but also the power of listening and being understood. His characters make their own choices and suffer the consequences, both good and bad. He has blended the real world with mythology in a way that is marvelous, fanciful and more than a little frightening.

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Tor

Good
Reviewed by Brit Mandelo on Mar 13 2013

It’s not a tour de force; instead, it’s a slower and more cautious piece that, nonetheless, illustrates quite thoroughly why Stephen King has called Gaiman “a treasure house of story.”

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Express

Excellent
Reviewed by Jake Kerridge on Jun 23 2013

The narrator says at one point that he likes myths: “They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just WERE.” The Ocean At The End Of The Lane just IS; it has, like all good myths, a power that defies explanation.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
Reviewed by Michelle Dean on Jun 19 2013

...The Ocean at the End of the Lane is not just very good but cleaves quite close to greatness. It suggests that the process of growing may be learning how those "greater things" the narrator reflects on are entwined with the small things he took pleasure in as a child...

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Teen Reads

Good
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on Jun 21 2013

What Gaiman excels at, and where THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE truly succeeds, is in its honest examination of youth, and the very real scariness of being such a tiny soul in a world so vast that you cannot comprehend it.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Jeff Alford on Sep 13 2013

Looking past Ursula Monkton and the book's various creatures, The Ocean at the End of Lane functions as a story about a return. Its nostalgic plot shouldn't just lead a reader through a fantasy story about Lettie and Ursula, but should trigger a kind of meta-reflection about escaping into a book.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Good
Reviewed by Daniel Herborn on Sep 08 2013

Whatever the audience, it's one of Gaiman's most accessible works, a story that not only recognises the primal power of mythology, but harnesses it to great effect.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by Greg Carpenter on Jun 09 2013

Mark Twain once said that Tom Sawyer was a book for boys while Huckleberry Finn was a book for people who used to be boys. Much the same could be said for Gaiman’s efforts here. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book for people who used to be children… and for those who would like to be again.

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The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Keith Donohue on Jun 16 2013

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a small thing with much joy and heartache, sacrifice and friendship, beautifully crafted and as lonesome as the ocean.

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Seattle PI

Good
Reviewed by Fitz on Jul 13 2013

This was one more journey with Gaiman I would happily take again. All of his books leave me asking questions and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was no different.

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Seattle PI

Good
on Jul 10 2013

The best thing about this book is that, after years of begging, my wife finally read a Neil Gaiman book and liked it a lot. We spent an evening discussing the book, something we haven't done in a while and for that, Mr. Gaiman, I'm eternally thankful...

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Robbins on Jun 14 2013

Gaiman's no Ursula Le Guin, but he's a graceful writer who lays off the flash, and he knows that in fantasy it's the particulars that matter.

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Chron.com

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Silverman on Jun 16 2013

When the end comes, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” leaves you wanting more, but not necessarily in a good way. Yes, it’s a fun read, and the story moves along nicely. Many will finish this book in one sitting. But the story reads more like a treatment for a movie than a full-blown novel...

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The National

Good
Reviewed by Clare Dight on Aug 03 2013

Gaiman's assured and observant writing helps the reader to suspend any sense of disbelief as the forces of nature and eternal knowledge take on a pitiless, ancient evil.

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Tulsa World

Good
Reviewed by James Watts Jr. on Jun 30 2013

For the time it takes to read this brief novel, Gaiman puts you very neatly into the mind of his young protagonist so that, like his older self, you come away from this story not quite sure where the mundane ends and the fantastic begins.

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DNA

Excellent
Reviewed by Shraddha Uchil on Jul 07 2013

No review can do justice to this novel. The only way you can fall in love with it is by experiencing it for yourself. Hopefully, like me, you’ll be sorry when you’re done.

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Lit Reactor

Above average
Reviewed by Rajan Khanna on Jul 24 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane isn’t a bad novel by any means. Gaiman’s voice and prose seem as effortless as maybe they've ever been. I just can’t shake the idea that I wanted something...more.

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io9

Good
Reviewed by Meredith Woerner on Sep 13 2013

It starts with a drifter committing suicide in the family car. Read that sentence five times over. Yeah, that's freaking rad. You go, Gaiman.

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Stuff

Above average
on Jun 20 2013

If there is a lesson to be taken from the book, and this is where Gaiman blurs that distinction between children's and adult fiction, it's that perspective every child has at some point in their young lives - that adults are perfect, all-knowing, authoritative figures.Everyone knows that this is ultimately bollocks, of course.

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Keizertimes

Excellent
Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer on Jun 24 2013

For readers new to this author, consider this: if Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson had a love-child, it would be Neil Gaiman. If you’re a fan, you know that already – and you know that “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a book you’ll remember.

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Persephone Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Sara Habien on Sep 11 2013

While I liked that story, The Ocean at The End of The Lane feels more effective because we don’t know what is real and what is not. It messes with our suspension of disbelief in a good way, and also in a way that doesn’t scream, Look how clever I am!

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Dominion of New York

Above average
Reviewed by Liberty Hardy on Jun 18 2013

Here and there are tiny bits and explanations about the Hempstocks and their abilities and the evil taking place, but never enough to be entirely satisfactory, though the book is still completely worth reading.

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SFX

Above average
on Jun 14 2013

This isn’t a compelling or page-turning novel – rather, it’s a book to sink into, allowing yourself to be gradually pulled along by its currents, into a childhood that’s half remembered...and since the consequences of his actions are forgotten by the main character, it’s easy to believe that nothing of importance has really happened.

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Annenberg Digital News

Good
Reviewed by Michael Chasin on Jun 22 2013

At first glance it might seem too slight to call a masterpiece. The spine might convince you that you'll only be wetting your feet. Make no mistake, 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' is anything but shallow.

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Booked Solid

Good
Reviewed by Amber Wu on Aug 10 2013

Although it is written for an adult audience, the majority of the narrative takes place through the eyes of a child as the middle-aged narrator recalls his childhood. The use of the adult voice as a framing device for the story allows Gaiman to explore the relationship between the writer, the characters, and the reader in a unique way.

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Escape Pod

Above average
Reviewed by Josh Roseman on Jul 08 2013

I recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane to any fans of Neil Gaiman’s work, and to anyone who’s ever gone back to the home they loved most as a child and realized that all they can do is remember how it used to be.

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Den of Geek

Good
Reviewed by Mike Cecchini on Jul 13 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane fits perfectly alongside the magical worlds Mr. Gaiman has created in his other works. Gaiman devotees will find familiar elements...downright comforting, even as some of the creepier undertones make with the scares.

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The Gaming Gang

Good
Reviewed by Jeff McAleer on Aug 31 2013

Fans of Neil Gaiman should be delighted by his latest novel and for those of you who haven’t read any of his previous work, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a perfect place to start.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Nadia Esposito on Aug 16 2013

Life could be scary from a child's point of view. It's not always about candy and ice cream. That's what Neil Gaiman shows us, and how our memories can also deceive us.

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Sep 06 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is exactly what one has come to expect from Mr. Gaiman. However, this time, he draws on his own childhood to flesh out some of the details of the farm in Sussex and the Hempstock family.

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Jenn's Bookshelves

Excellent
Reviewed by Jenn on Jun 21 2013

Having read this book three times in the last two weeks, it is definitely one of those books that requires multiple reads for it is impossible to truly grasp it’s beauty and the sheer volume of the message portrayed in just one reading.

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A Bookworm's World

Good
Reviewed by Luanne on Sep 10 2013

I felt like a child whose parent closed the book and turned off the light with a 'it's time to go to sleep now." And I never did - I always relived the story and wondered what else might happen. The Ocean at the End of the Lane left me with exactly that feeling - and that's a good thing.

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Devourer of Books

Good
on Sep 13 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is so magical that it is scary. It begins as a simply charming story of a sweet little boy, but strange things begin happening around him.

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Beth Fish Reads

Good
on Jul 15 2013

It's a magical book about childhood, love, friendship, and sacrifice. It's about the nature of memory and about the possibility of knowing everything and of choosing not to.

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Lit Stack

Excellent
Reviewed by Sharon Browning on Jun 24 2013

Once again, Neil Gaiman’s voice both soothes and agitates, and tells, with chills and shivers, a whopping good tale.

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http://bestfantasybooks.com

Above average
Reviewed by Jon Snow on Jul 16 2013

Perhaps the other redeeming feature of this book...where we get into a few bits of human morality and singular mind we have as people...I wish this book had been 300 pages and he went into this part more deeply.

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Fantasy Faction

Good
Reviewed by Spencer Wightman on Jun 30 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Land shows that Neil Gaiman still has the gift of capturing a child’s perspective and putting it on paper in stark realism. The injustice and helplessness felt by every child living in an adult world is rekindled through this story, as is the romantic love for the pure and righteous world of myths and magic.

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Sarah Reads Too Much

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Reads Too Much on Jul 18 2013

Neil Gaiman has this way of wrapping the reader up in his world immediately. Once you are in, you just can't shake him - which is why I read this book in one day.

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All Things Urban Fantasy

Excellent
Reviewed by Chris on Jun 18 2013

Gaiman does a masterful job of giving the novel a distinctly growing sense of horror as the forces unleashed begin to wreak havoc on the narrator’s life. What’s even more impressive is the masterful job Gaiman does of never letting this feel like a young adult novel even when the two main characters are both under the age of twelve.

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The Founding Fields

Excellent
Reviewed by Bane Of Kings on Jul 04 2013

it’s Neil Gaiman. You shouldn’t expect him to write an average, stereotypical urban fantasy featuring either a badass Buffy ripoff or an equally badass Harry Dresden ripoff. No, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is different. Unique.

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Kathy Takes on Books

Above average
Reviewed by Kathy Davie on Aug 09 2013

As much as I wanted to know more, I was satisfied with what I was allowed to know—although I do wish Gaiman had given out more names! It was complete with a sense of mystery.

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Guys Lit Wire

Good
Reviewed by Kelly Fineman on Aug 13 2013

To sum up: The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about eternity and knowledge, about good and bad, existence and being. It is about all of those things, and none of those things, and about magic. And you should read it.

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The Book Stop

Above average
Reviewed by Curleygeek04 on Aug 30 2013

I saw in a reviewer comment that a lot of this book feels like stuff Gaiman has done before, and maybe that’s true. I need to read a lot more of Gaiman’s books, and then I’ll let you know.

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From Left to Write

Good
on Jun 12 2013

...The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read. I had no idea what I was missing! His other well-loved novels are long and seemed a bit intimidating, like American Gods, but I think I need to reconsider.

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Tynga's Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie on Aug 18 2013

For a short book, it had a lot of things to say. From the few Gaiman books I’ve read, after reading THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, I have to issues saying that he is a master at what he does.

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Bookfoolery and Babble

Good
on Aug 13 2013

I liked the fact that The Ocean at the End of the Lane was more personal in nature than any other book I've read by Gaiman.

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The Guilded Earlobe

Good
on Jul 15 2013

I loved every moment of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is the rare book that from the wonderful start to the bitter end, kept me enthralled in its words, a prisoner to the next sentence and situation. The Ocean at the End of the Lane reminded me of why I read.

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Above average
Reviewed by Larry on Aug 10 2013

If you're not a fan of books that have a little bit of horror and fantasy in them, you probably won't enjoy this book. But if you have the ability to suspend your disbelief and let yourself get lost in a beautifully written and emotionally compelling story, you won't regret it.

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Bibliophilic Book Blog

Good
on Jun 18 2013

‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ is a beautiful and haunting short story which reminded me a lot of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. Admittedly, I haven’t read much of Mr. Gaiman’s work, but when I do I am always impressed.

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It's All About Books

Below average
on Jun 19 2013

...I enjoyed the writing and the style and the story... but mostly, I just didn't' get it. Bottom line: An interesting strange tale that was just plain weird for me!

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Lost in a Great Book

Good
on Jun 12 2013

Familiar characters lie within such limited pages – the Hempstocks, from the Graveyard Book, and the use of magic and mythology that is so prevalent in much of his work. However, there is also real fear created when you read this book, because it comes from the unease that each of us has secretly felt as children.

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Bookshelves of Doom

Above average
on Sep 09 2013

...I liked it. A lot. But I totally understand why some of my patrons have brought it back saying, "WHAAAAAAAAAAA?"

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The Lostent Wife

Good
Reviewed by Lydia on Jun 20 2013

Chances are if you are reading this review, you already planned on picking up this book. But if, by chance, you are one of the few who has not experienced Gaiman’s work, this would not be a bad place to start at all.

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Rivers I Have Known

Good
Reviewed by Amritorupa Kanjilal on Jul 15 2013

The reason I liked The Ocean a lot was the fact that it was really crisp, at just 181 pages, and told the story without any blubber or luggage.

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scott william foley

Below average
Reviewed by Scott William Foley on Aug 28 2013

I understand that Gaiman wanted to explore the disconnect between the child’s world and the adult’s, but the story should not suffer as a result. In the end, we have far more questions than answers, and while that is not always a bad thing, in this case, it weakened the book.

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Literary Inklings

Good
Reviewed by Casee Marie on Jul 02 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane feels almost like an homage to the sometimes-perfect, sometimes-scary place that is the childhood imagination; and it reminds the reader that such a place will always exist within us.

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Serendipity Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Vivienne Dacosta on Aug 23 2013

I was gripped by Neil Gaiman’s short, but enjoyable tome. It’s a fantasy but at the same time, believable and very well told. I loved the Hempstock family, with their quirky powers, and in particular Lettie.

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The Literary Life of the Well-Read Wife

Below average
Reviewed by Mandy B. on Aug 14 2013

The Ocean At The End of The Lane was the first...novel I’ve read by Gaiman. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Personally, I think the book needed to be a bit longer with more detail given on the background of the mysterious Hempstock family.

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The Allure of Books

Good
Reviewed by Allison on Jun 13 2013

Basically, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an intriguing little oddity of a book. It wears a lot of different hats – mystery, horror, coming of age, tradition, fantasy, tragedy – and Neil Gaiman juggled them all with mountains of success.

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Alive on the Shelves

Good
Reviewed by Lisa on Aug 22 2013

The book is beautifully written. There is a poetry to the language, small passages that make you think, yes, that’s it exactly.

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One More Page

Good
Reviewed by Tina on Aug 14 2013

Suffice to say that after reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I will start working on reading more Gaiman. If all his books has the same kind of lovely storytelling, then I certainly don’t want to miss out.

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Book Banter

Good
Reviewed by Alex Telander on Jul 30 2013

The story is sweet and small, but also large and complex; it feels too short to be told fully, but by the end the reader is left feeling satisfied and complete.

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Col Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Col on Sep 09 2013

This is a unique story, despite the fact that the Hempstock women are reminiscent of the Fates –- life forms so old and powerful that even the Greek gods could not understand or sway them. But the similarities ended for me there. I absolutely couldn’t put this book down.

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So Misguided

Good
on Jul 04 2013

The Ocean At The End Of The Lanel is Neil Gaiman’s latest novel and it’s a melancholic little book about growing up, childhood, dreams and disappointments. It’s short but rich and reminds me of Coraline.

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Novel Thoughts

Good
Reviewed by Jeremy West on Jul 17 2013

I want to thank Neil Gaiman for writing this short novel. Though this is my first book by him, I promise you it will not be my last.

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jrforasteros.com

Good
on Jun 18 2013

It’s clearly well-crafted, wholly thought-out and beautiful. But the setting never supersedes the story. We’re left with a lot of questions, an ache to return to the Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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Elementary, My Dear Reader

Good
Reviewed by The Reader on Aug 27 2013

Gaiman proves himself once more to be the literary rock star we all have come to love, and I need to delve deeper into his canon to get my Gaiman fix.

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The Literary Outpost

Above average
Reviewed by H. Deal Safrit on Aug 19 2013

I came away from The Ocean at the End of the Lane with such a fine feeling of peace and contentment...

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Tempting Persephone

Above average
Reviewed by Chelle on Aug 13 2013

I can sum up my thoughts quickly enough: I liked it, as I’m bound to like anything Gaiman writes, but I didn’t love it, and I think I didn’t love it because I was aware of a story beneath the story on the page...

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Reader Rating for The Ocean at the End of the Lane
78%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5638 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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