Magical Realism at its Finest (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman)

The Ocean at the End of the LaneI really tried to write a summary for this book, but it’s literally indescribable. Neil Gaiman is a master of language and storytelling and this book makes me want to read ALL THE BOOKS. Gaiman handles child narrators in a way that makes them so much more mature but while still maintaining that innocence that is inherent in children. I say this from my experience with reading The Graveyard Book as well as this one. Our narrator in this book is so serious but is still just a child (I think he’s 7?) and has moments where he acts like one. I love that he loves to read books and maybe that’s why he reacts the way he does. All of these magical things are happening around him, and he kind of just accepts it. There are a few times when he tries to make sense of things, but in the end he’s just like, “Yeah, sure, that’s how it is. Of course.” He’s just so ready to believe in the Hempstock’s magic.

I also love the way that Gaiman uses the setting in his book. His descriptions are so vivid and it just makes the whole story so real. What’s actually based on real life and what’s fiction? It’s really hard to tell in this book. The food descriptions were also unreal. I just wanted to transport myself to the Hempstock’s kitchen table because those meals sounded AMAZING. The characters were fantastic as well. I loved the way that our narrator’s perception of the Hempstock women changed as he grew older. I also loved the characterization in general. Each character felt like an individual with a past and a future–no cardboard cutouts here.

Despite the fact that this book (for the most part) has a child narrator, this book is for adults. It deals with some heavier topics (such as suicide and adultery) and contains some scenes that may be disturbing for younger children. That being said, since the story is being narrated by a young boy, he sees some things that he doesn’t quite understand. So if a younger reader were to get their hands on this book, a lot of things may go over their head since descriptions aren’t very explicit.

Overall, I thought this book was absolutely magical. I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I loved the story. I would DEFINITELY recommend this one.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate (some of this is magical violence)
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

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20 thoughts on “Magical Realism at its Finest (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman)

  1. I don’t know if you listen to audiobooks at all, but if you do, his are the best. Neil reads them himself and really brings the story to life. And when there are songs, he will totally sing them. It’s actually my favourite way to read a Neil Gaiman book.

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  2. I’m surprised by how I haven’t read one of Gaiman’s books yet. I think I have one of his short story collections, but still haven’t picked it up. This books sounds interesting enough–mainly that it’s from the POV of a child, which I’ve not come across much in my reading–so is tempted to give it a try!

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    1. At times the pace does slow done, but I think that’s simply because this isn’t really a plot-driven book so much, if you’re expecting an exciting storyline then I don’t think I’d recommend this one. However, I think the story was incredibly beautiful with the way it was written.

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  3. I’ve read Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book by Gaiman and loved them both. He has a way with words that, when combined with his imagination, is remarkable to read. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and think I’ll give it a go. Thanks for the great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve read some A.S. King and I’m sure some other authors that would be in that classification…they’re just not coming to mind right now. I’ve only read a couple of Gaiman’s other books, but this one definitely makes me want to read more!

      Liked by 1 person

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