The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Remarks in Letters

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

This post is part of our Neil Gaiman Reading Day: a celebration of one of our favorite authors on the occasion of the publication of his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Check out the full line-up here.

Ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

Today is the day you’ve been waiting for for years: Neil Gaiman’s first “adult novel” since Anansi Boys came out in 2006!

How much you enjoy the new book will probably be related to how excited you are for its release.

Every reader who is a huge fan of Gaiman’s work and has been counting the days since it was announced will think this book is amazing.

Other people who are interested, but not enough to chase it down on the first day, will think it’s good.

Casual readers who have never read Gaiman before would do best to start with a different one of his books.

Everyone will agree that the story is compelling:

A man returns to his home town for a funeral, where he begins to remember events from when he was little, things that happened to him when he was a boy.

Not-so-nice events, like the suicide of the lodger living with the boy’s family.

And the terrible things that crept into world, brought about by the lodger’s death.

The brightest spot in this book are the Hempstock women who live – you guessed it – near the ocean at the end of the lane.

They are delightful and funny and fierce and help the boy when things go wrong.

He turns to the Hempstocks for help when things start to get weird.

Eventually the women puzzle out what has settled in their land and how to handle it.

Each of the women is wise beyond her years, and it is the youngest, Lettie, who helps the most.

Neil Gaiman does a great job of setting the story up with a fairy tale atmosphere and things that go bump in the night.

Don’t think I’ve been remiss in telling you the boy’s name – he remains nameless throughout the book.

On second thought, none of the family members are given proper names.

Father and son dynamics play a part in the book, the relationship between the boy and his dad brought to a head by the evil in the neighborhood.

The book’s size (175 pages) hinders the story a bit.

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.

Each page contains at least one magnificent quote about life or books that is sure to show up in your tumblr feed at some point.

Librarians will benefit from this book, too – it is a magical love letter to reading.

And what’s better than reading?


End of story.


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