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Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Whenever I try to review a Neil Gaiman book, I'm always looking for the perfect words to do it justice but it so very hard to sum up genius in just a few paragraphs. His typical books usually land in the magical realism genre and THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is definitely a part of that genre. In this book, there's a chilling quality to his writing that makes you shiver throughout, and it leaves you wondering how close to the truth his magical world really is. Everything is based on real life lessons so it's hard to believe there isn't a bit of truth in his every word.

Despite its paranormal/magical realism genre, the book is really a story about growing up and the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood. Some situations can make children grow older faster, despite their ability to overcome troublesome ordeals.  However, as children we have a tendency to believe anything, even if things are a little bit farfetched, so some of these farfetched and imaginative situations can impact us a great deal. This novel is narrated by a nameless seven year old main character so you really have to question the accuracy of some situations. Are things really happening the way they are narrated or are the facts confused by some little boy’s overactive imagination? That’s the charm of Gaiman’s writing because it makes you question everything, despite your strong grip on reality.

The nameless narrator is a very shy boy who befriends a strange country girl named Lottie Hempstock. After meeting her, things get a little strange. Things get even stranger when he pulls a worm out from a hole under his foot. Disguised as the new housekeeper for his family, the monster (or the flea as Lottie calls it) that haunts the small English town makes his life miserable. He’s the only one in his family that truly sees the evil hiding behind the housekeeper facade and he faces danger when he tries to defy the monster’s orders. He finds help in Lottie and her mother and grandmother, who try to help him as much as possible with their strange and eccentric abilities. As the third generation, Lottie is only 11 years old but she seems wise beyond her years. Together, the old lady, the middle age woman and the eager pre-adolescent make a strange female trio. The whole setting and story is eerie, curious and fantastic, but I was on the edge of my seat until the very end.

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. He has the ability to write wonderful YA and children’s books (for example Coraline) but I think his talent is best suited for Adult books. Despite it being told from the point of view of a seven year old, I would definitely qualify this book as an Adult book because of some of the themes. Because I like strange books, I really enjoyed this one because it made me believe everything that was happening and pushed the limits of my imagination.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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7 People left their mark' :

  1. I have only read one Neil Gaiman book (American Gods) and i loved it, but i don't think i could've named you another of his books. You enthusiasm for his work makes me think i should really look into reading more of his books.

  2. He also wrote "Coraline", which they made a movie from. "Stardust" and "The Graveyard Book" are other great ones. Definitely an author worth looking into. Very strange stuff, however.

  3. I'm always afraid to pick up one of his books. I've read a couple and loved them but I'm always afraid that I will be disappointed by the next one, you know? This is one that I've been meaning to read, though. Thanks for sharing your review!

  4. I know what you mean. I'm always afraid that the next Gaiman book I pick up will be similar to the rest of them but I'm always surprised by his widespread imagination.

  5. One of these days I am going to bite the bullet and read one of his books! I have The Graveyard Book on my shelf. Great review!

  6. Everything he writes is pretty weird. It's not for everyone I guess but if you go in with an open mind, he'll definitely push the limits of your imagination.

  7. This book was fantastic. Gaiman is a great writer, and this story was strange and beautiful. I enjoyed every page. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, sci fi, fairy tales, or a good story in general.