The Ocean at the End of the Lane


The Ocean at the End of the Lane read like a cross between Roald Dahl and Harry Potter. The babysitter, Urusla Monkton, is terrifyingly monstrous – much like Mrs. Trunchbull in Matilda. And the hunger birds that claw at the little boy towards the end are eerily similar to the Death Eaters (aren’t they, people who have read this?) As a result, I felt like the elements meant to portray Gaiman as masterful – the terror, the horror, even the perceptive insight into the mind of a child – had already been done before. Yes this book was well written – Gaiman writes the fantastical effortlessly – but either I couldn’t buy into it as an adult or I felt like I’d had my fill already. Why are so many adults reading this, I wonder? Wouldn’t this be best marketed to (old enough) children? I’d love some thoughts on this, guys. Am I missing something?

17 thoughts on “The Ocean at the End of the Lane

  1. Yeah, I guess I have a slight aversion too because I always find myself disbelieving. I don’t think you’ll have much patience for this one :(

      • My favorite is Neverwhere, especially if you have ever been to London or know of the stops on the Underground.
        I was like you on this one – in some ways, I felt like it would have worked better for a younger audience, and I wanted him to go deeper because I feel like he was referencing all kinds of things with the three Hemstock women (for some reason, the first thing I thought of were the three witches of MacBeth). So I enjoyed it but I wanted more. A lot of my friends really loved it though, and I think their basic take was that it was for adults rather than children because it made them remember what it was like to be a child.

        • The three witches of Macbeth – how perfect!
          I get what they mean about the nostalgia effect but I feel like other authors have done it better.
          Outside of the little boy, I agree that Gaiman didn’t make the book human enough. I think he got so caught up in the fantastical elements that he forgot to develop his characters! I’m glad to hear I’m not alone on the one – and thanks for the Neverwhere recommendation.

  2. A lot of adults are reading children’s books nowadays. I think a lot of them really can transcend the age gap, but not all. I’ve only read one other Neil Gaiman book and just didn’t care for it. Now maybe I would have if I had read it when I was in the right age group.
    Great review :)
    <3 from your tribe.

    • Hi Julie,
      Thank you! I don’t really consider this a review because it’s so short and not very thoughtful. I hope you’ll browse my blog and read some of my other multi-paragraph ones! Heading off to visit yours soon :)

  3. The only book I’ve read of his is The Graveyard Book and it was an audiobook narrated by Gaiman himself. I kept listening to it because his narration was so incredible. The book was good but I disliked the ending. I wanted a much happier ending than what I got. . .I haven’t gotten brave enough yet to read this one. So glad you raised the question!

    • I’ve heard wonderful things about his narration.
      A lot of people have hesitated to read it, afraid they’ll hate it even though so many have loved it!

  4. If you want a Gaiman book that directed at adults that reads like a wholly unique work, I’d suggest American Gods. I really enjoyed it and hadn’t read anything like it before. I’d also second Katie’s suggestion of Neverwhere.

    I haven’t read this one yet either, I plan to at some point. Right now I just admire the pretty cover on my shelf.

    • Ha! It’ll be a really quick read when you do get around to it. Escapist fluff that you shouldn’t look into too deeply (as I did).
      American Gods is a classic isn’t it? I think I’ll have to start there and then re-evaluate this man.

  5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has an adult narrator looking back at childhood, so I would agree that that’s why it’s not marketed as YA. I listened to The Ocean at the End of the Lane as an audiobook read by the author, and enjoyed it, but I had the same response to Coraline as you did to this one. I think it was having this one read to me in an English accent instead of reading it myself that made the language seem lyrical rather than simple.

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