The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - review by James Kidd

James Kidd

Young at Heart

The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Headline 256pp £16.99

What kind of novel does The Ocean at the End of the Lane think it is? The blurb heralding its release trumpets: ‘It has been eight years since his last novel for adults, The Sunday Times bestseller Anansi Boys.’ The Ocean at the End of the Lane doesn’t exactly read in an ‘adult’ way. While Gaiman is capable of visionary purple prose (‘Every blade of grass glowed and glimmered, every leaf on every tree’), his diction often seems tutored at the ‘Cat sat on the mat’ school: ‘The old lady gave me a cup of creamy milk from Bessie the cow.’ He is especially fond of the one-sentence paragraph, alliterative dying falls heavy with easily won significance. You can almost hear a sigh following sentences such as ‘I remembered that, and, remembering that, I remembered everything.’ 

The story itself deepens these waters. Our narrator – unnamed, though I suspect ‘Neil Gaiman’ might suffice – carries unmistakable whiffs of maturity. He appears in mourning weeds, grieving a loss also unnamed – a parent, perhaps? He is a father, a divorcé and an artist, though again the narrative

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