Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award for The Audible Audiobook of the Year
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's about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us. It began for our narrator 40 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 a menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
Contains a special introduction from Neil Gaiman
©2013 Neil Gaiman (P)2013 Headline Digital
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I've listened to. In his words, though this story is short, it is very "dark". Whilst I agree it is dark-ish, it isn't what I was expecting. The seamless transition from our world to the "other world" is done very well. The Ursela character in her true form is also quite menacing. It reminds me of the abstract nature of some of Stephen King's good work.
The story is interesting enough, but the thing that really got on my nerves was Gaiman's narration. In every scene of the book, he speaks with an upward positive-sounding naive inflection. While this fits with the personality of the protagonist (an innocent 7-year-old boy), the dark tone of the story makes it completely out of place. Even in scenes that are supposed to be terrifying, the same tone of voice is there. It doesn't fit and it takes away from the story.
The other thing that I couldn't get over was that for a 7-year-old boy, the protagonist seems to be one of the world's great philosophers. He says and thinks things that no 7-year-old I've ever met has any understanding of. You can't even explain this by the character being an avid reader of books. The things he makes comments on would escape the understanding of someone that young. On top of this, there are times when Gaiman seems to remember that this is a young child and the character has a complete lack of understanding of a situation. Consistency is key, Neil. He's either a very smart worldly young boy, or a clueless child. You can't have it both ways.
A bit of a letdown, considering everyone praises this author.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
Neil Gaiman is the writer and the reader of the audio book "The Ocean at the End of the Lane." The story comes to life through the eyes of a seven year old boy, possibly Gaiman himself. A lot of not-so-nice things happen to him but in it he discover an 'imaginary' world where reality and fantasy blur into a dark fairytale.
The listener is drawn into the story and you empathise with the boy from almost the start. It comes highly recommended.
I enjoyed this book so much I listened to it in one sitting. I usually just listen to audiobooks while I'm driving, but this book I put my earphones in and listened to it while doing my chores. I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman books and this is one of his best!
The story was very exciting, gripping and fantastical but it did get a little repetitive by the end (yes, we know you are not going to let go of Lettie Hempstock's hand, you have said it 5 times now) And maybe it's something you wouldn't notice if you were reading it, however there was so much imagination you can let that go and absorb yourself into his world.
I love Neil's work, his imagination is spectacular and his story telling is beyond skilled, this is another of his great works of fantasy fiction.
I found the narration a little annoying, it sounds like he's reading to a circle of children gathered round a fire cupping a mug of warm milk. Which was nice at first but got annoying for the whole book.
Listen to this book! It is truly awesome and wonderful and frightening all at once. Neil Gaiman is a master and reads it well too.
Neil Gaiman writes beautifully, and reads this strange tale of childhood perfectly. I enjoy hearing authors read their own work, which gives it the meaning and inflection they intended, and brings it to life in the closest possible way to their imaginings.
This is a story about children, but it's not for children. This story is about childhood, about places and people, about memories and how, for children, a pond can be an ocean. It's dark, in places it's menacing, and even horrific, but that's Neil Gaiman's work in a nutshell - as you listen, it will make you smile, it will warm you with a sense of nostalgia, and it will made you shudder.
This is a story which will become a classic of the genre. It's strange and it's beautiful, at once a fantasy written with autobiographical voice, which adds to its wonder and its majesty. Well worth a listen.
The voice of childhood filtered through the awareness of adulthood - a very fine line, but Gaiman gets it right.
Lettie Hempstock, for her no-nonsense attitude
I heard Gaiman read the first chapters of this at an event in Sydney, and knew I had to hear him read the whole thing. He has a lilting, mesmerising quality to his narration that draws you in. Even though he doesn't do full blown character voices, the small touches he gives to each character set them off perfectly. (though not entirely convinced by his South African accent!)
I went into this having enjoyed Stardust and Neverwhere, so hardly a huge Neil Gaiman reader. At first it read like a quaint fairy story, certainly pleasant and engaging but not something I could see myself raving about. By the end I came to seriously rate this as one of the best novels I have listened to in years. The depiction of childhood, specifically isolation, fear and wonder as experienced by a child was totally captivating. The final sequence and epilogue played out like a C S Lewis allegory, but like the best Lewis books, never over plays it or comes to obvious conclusions. My only criticism is Neil Gaiman's delivery. Now, I do like his reading but having listened to him read 3 of his books in the space of 12 months I am a little too used to his phrasing and delivery. He has a very distinctive speech pattern and tends to use the same accent for every character. I am not someone who believes that the author is the best person to read their work and would rather Gaiman handed the reigns to a professional reader for future stories. As it is whilst I intend to explore the rest of his work on audible, having discovered that I have a tolerance threshold for his reading style has put me off going on a Gaiman audio book binge. But none the less this is a brilliant story and well worth a listen.
Out of the Silent Planet. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
No. His regional accents are quite lacking and many characters sound the same.
Very much. I felt anxious for the main character and experienced a surprised delight during the final sequence.
An excellent novel. An underwhelming reading but none the less an essential purchase for any fantasy reader or fan of Gaiman's other work.
"A great short story, an OK novel."
Yes. I think it would bear a second read, in fact I may get more out of it if I read it again.
Yes, although I may stick to the non adult fiction variety. as he does childhood terror so well but can indulge his talent for fantasy much more. This became a bit...well..."really...?"
I think his reading made the childhood experience very real, it felt personal.
It made me feel very sorry for the bright little boy and very angry with the rather dull and dimwitted parents.
The evocative tale of childhood fear and impotence was wonderful, the pure joy of that child finding a really cool, strong and powerful friend was glorious but sadly, all that inexplicable, limitless magic spoilt the tension in the end. You just felt the magic people will put it all right in the end, but you never knew quite why.
"Can't beat a good Gaiman"
I do love a competent author who is also a competent narrator! Neil Gaimans books are great fun, if slightly warped at times. By reading it himself you can be sure to get the story as he intended. This is one of his books that is suitable for a wide range of audiences, so highly recommended for any long family road trips this summer.
The story takes us back in time to when the protagonist was a boy. A trip back home has reminded his adult self of some very odd happenings in his youth. What follows is a good mystery with some strange and/or supernatural characters vividly imagined to keep you guessing at every step of the way. The places and people are beautifully described so that you can close your eyes and almost see what happens. A great read, and probably one of the few I shall listen to over again.
Lette Hempstock - the sheer mystery of who she and her family are...
His speaks so beautifully, it's hard to choose a best character, so I shall plump for the main character for wordage alone
Things are not what they seem, even if you can see more than others
I wish it didn't have to end, but also need to know what has happened and how, even if not why!
"Wistful and charming but ultimately unsatisfying"
The book starts wonderfully with its wistful portayal of childhood, conveying nostalgia without getting overly sentimental, and the story is very vividly and exuberantly told with moments of great inventiveness, particularly in the first half.
But I was considerably less keen on the second half of the story, which degenerates into a maelstrom of magical mumbo-jumbo. There was no logical thread of cause-and-effect, which kills any suspense and leaves the story feeling ultimately unsatisfying.
Unfortunately from a certain point about 3/4 of the way through the story, I began to lose interest in where it was heading - a case of "too much magic" perhaps. So although the ending should have been poignant, I found myself feeling slightly nonplussed by the finale, and indifferent about the fates of the characters.
Yes - I do enjoy Neil Gaiman's narration. He's very engaging, although his warm and upbeat tone of voice does mean that sometimes he doesn't convey pathos very well.
Yes, although it would be more for the spectacle than for the story.
I enjoy a good fantasy tale, and particularly like those where our world and other worlds collide, but these seem to work better as longer stories which introduce the magical/fantastical elements more gradually and allow more time to establish at least some rudimentary "rules" by which they operate. Here it all seems too sudden and too over-the-top - the gentle magic of the childhood imagination and the subtle otherworldliness of the English countryside are completely overpowered by the sensational (and pretty much incomprehensible) magical story elements.
"Slim but powerful!"
I dithered whether to get this one as it's such a slim novel. Oh how glad I am that I did! What a powerful story in such few words, and so beautifully narrated as only Neil Gaiman can. I hardly know where to start, this just evoked so many emotions. Essentially this is a story about loss, the loss of childhood and innocence and also about the loss of the magic in life. This slim little novel lingered with me long after finishing. Though I think the older and riper you are, the more this story will resonate with you. I discussed this book with my daughter, who is in her early 20's so she can still pretty much remember her childhood! Although she enjoyed it, it was not a 5 star read for her and did not evoke any of those lingering feelings. I will ask her to read it again when she hits 50!
"another interesting adults fairy tale"
Yes, it's written from such an interesting view point and I love listening to Neil Gaiman narrate. I love the way you see it from his point of view as a child and an adult remembering through more experienced eyes.
I love the way he fits the cat characters into his stories and they are particularly poignant in this fairy tale.
Another one of those books that made me look forward to doing the housework so I could listen to a bit more. Neil Gaiman has written another interesting adults fairy tale and I am looking forward to listening to it again.
"Brilliant Book, Excellently Nararted"
Yes, definitely. The way Neil Gaiman narrates this is worth the credits. You get so much more from it and really understand why he uses the words he does. Beautifully written and wonderfully read.
One of the best
Lettie, read the book you will know why
Mesmerizing, brilliant story about seeing world full of mystery by little boy eyes
"A story with depth"
The story unfolded revealing just a little at a time from almost a child's fairy tale into something much much darker with many twists and turns as the story unfolds. Neil Gaiman makes a good job of the narration.
"Adult or kids book? Who cares its great."
Not quite the epic of my favourite book of all time, American Gods, but this is a great short fantastic fantasy that captivates and entertains throughout
Neil's story telling is second to none and his reading is a pleasure. I guess he know how it should fill your head
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