The only problem with the short novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane is just that–it’s short. The ending almost feels abrupt and though it comes at the end of an act, the story overall feels like it could serve as the opening to a longer tale.
But in a way it’s better by being so short. Rather than feeling slight, Gaiman’s story of a young boy inadvertently tangling himself between worlds in early 1970s Sussex feels neat and proper. In the author’s notes Gaiman recalls that he read the story aloud as he wrote it and how it benefited from this. You can see the evidence in the sturdy and somewhat melancholic narration of the protagonist, struggling to deal with situations seven year olds regularly have trouble with–parents, younger sisters, getting picked on at school–let alone having to grapple with the more supernatural elements that swirl in and around the matriarchal Hempstock farm where the titular “ocean” is situated.
By turns amusing, terrifying and nostalgic, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Gaiman in fine form. Anyone who enjoys his work will not go wrong here.