I LOVE Neil Gaiman`s work, I truly do. I think he is one of the best storytellers ever. But with The Ocean at the End of the Lane I was left somewhat disoriented in my feelings. I guess I expected something more at the end. Besides I read a translation and it wasn`t the best one, so I didn`t hear Gaiman`s voice.
Story itself is beautiful, strange, unexpected and creepy. I came to conclusion that it`s possible to read it in two ways. One, as a pure fantasy where the real world easily collides with some parallel fantasy world (as in American Gods) and everything is just lonely boy`s vivid imagination. Two, as a sad story about one boy`s lonely and even violent childhood where bad memories are altered with fantastical creatures and kind (in boy`s altered memory - unearthly and magical) Hampstock family. If you take the second approach, it`s a brilliant story.