THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark - from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul ( Joanne Harris)
I loved it ( Roddy Doyle)
Gaiman's achievement is to make the fantasy world seem true ( The Times)
It's possibly Gaiman's most lyrical, scary and beautiful work yet. It's a tale about childhood for grown-ups, a fantasy rooted in the darkest corners of reality. It is a story he's been waiting all his life to tell ( Independent on Sunday)
A hugely satisfying scary fantasy and a moving, subtle exploration of family, of what it's really like to be a child, and how the memories of childhood affect the adults we become. It's a wonderful book ( Irish Times)
The most affecting book Gaiman has written, a novel whose intensity of real-world observation and feeling make its other-worldly episodes doubly startling and persuasive ( Daily Telegraph)
This beautiful fable with flashes of terror and sparks of humour is about memory and magic and the darkness that lives without and within. Loneliness and longing saturate the pages but so does the redemptive power of friendship in the person of the magnificently adorable Lettie Hempstock ( Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller)
It's a very rare thing, maybe once a decade, for a novel to come along and within a few pages you know you're reading a future classic. If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman yet you can be forgiven, but this, his sixth adult novel, will firmly cement his handprints in the literary walk of fame...this is one of those stories that is almost primitive in its power - it captures you heart and soul, and makes you grateful we have storytellers like Gaiman to feed our minds and stoke our imaginations. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is this year's big bang book ( Stylist Magazine)
This is a book to sink into, allowing yourself to be gradually pulled along by its currents, into a childhood that's half remembered. Events take place over just a few days, 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. But experiencing those few days, that snippet of a childhood and a quest for survival in a world that's already terrifying for children is a joy, an experience that will stay with you long after the final page is turned ( SFX Magazine)
Dark, strange and scarily brilliant: an otherworldly fable about memories and magic ( Marie Claire)
I really don't want to say too much about the story itself. I will say it is short as it focused on one event, one wrong that needs to be put right. And because of that focus Neil Gaiman is free to explore the minor but significant details as well as look at the grander parts of life. It made me smile, it made me sad, it made my heart ache and it made me think. "What else could I ask for?" Read it ( GavReads)
A book that will resonate powerfully with anyone attempting to process the darker aspects of their own childhood. And in an age when childhood ends early, and often brutally, that makes it a book for almost everyone ( Medium)
If it's not just for adults, and not quite for children, there is one age-flexible group it is written for. An obtuse thing to say about a book it may be, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane was written for readers. It's for people to whom books were and are anaesthesia, companion, and tutor. If you're one of them, you'll want to wade into it, past your ankles, knees and shoulders, until it laps over the crown of your head. You'll want to dive in ( Den of Geek)
A mind-bending tale with a hint of horror ( Glamour)
This book is another gentle earthquake under our psychological landscape ( Time Out)
If you think fantasy books are only for people who enjoy rocking a sock/sandal combo and dressing up as warlocks at the weekend, think again. It's brilliantly written and you can whizz through it in a couple of days ( Heat)
The novel is a children's book, in the sense that it is a book about childhood. A child could read and enjoy it but only an adult will appreciate its bittersweet nuances and subtle sadnesses. 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 ( Financial Times)
Gaiman does this sort of thing as well as anybody, and after a low-key beginning he builds the tension with skill, resulting in some truly scary moments. Like the ocean in the duck pond, he creates a sense of scale far greater than the modest rural setting in which the action takes place. There is real heart too, most notably in the narrator's touching friendship with Lettie Hempstock, the girl from down the lane who may have been 11 years old for a very long time. These days there is a weight of expectation on anything Gaiman writes. Happily, this novel proves once again that the hype is justified ( The List)
Gaiman's storytelling is mythic, laced with ritual and minutiae - Lettie, her mother and crone tend their farm, banish creatures, cut and stitch the fabric of time and provide helpings of porridge... the richness of being seven, when happiness is a mix of books, sweets and adult injustice, is perfectly conveyed. Brief but memorable, Ocean is cosmic yet domestic ( Metro)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a novel about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us, created by the unparalleled imaginative power of Neil Gaiman.