The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

By Neil Gaiman
Harper Collins, 2008
320 Pages
A definite 10

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family. . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, the graveyard book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

What a delight this book was.  It’s weird to say that a book where the most of the main characters are dead and populate an ancient, practically abandoned graveyard, but it was.Just so you know, this will definitely be in my top ten this year and I am so glad I went with my instincts and went ahead and bought it!

McKean's simple ink drawings were perfect for this tale
The simple drawings by McKean are perfect for this tale.

Frequent Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean again contributes illustrations, which from the very first page lend this tale a shivery, deliciously creepy feel.  Are they not gorgeous? The opening illustration, of a bloodthirsty knife, in a bloodthirsty hand, tells you right away you are in for a tremendous story.

Bod, for reasons I will definitely not reveal hear, is being hunted.  His entire family is being hunted and Bod is the only one to get away.  A curious, and extremely precocious toddler, Bod escapes to the nearby graveyard as his family is being murdered.  As the murderer pursues him, the ghosts of the graveyard come together to protect the boy, with Mr. and Mrs. Owen’s stepping in to be his parents (at the behest of Bod’s recently murdered mother) and Silas, a being neither living or dead, as his guardian.  By bequeathing him Freedom of the Graveyard, the protect him from his wouldbe murderer, and give him other unexpected talents. 

Bod comes of age inside the graveyard, learning tricks of the trade as it were (basically, how to be a ghost) from his many neighbors and friends. He goes on many adventures, with the living and the dead (and slightly in between).  He makes friends.  He looses them.  He learns poetry.  He learns history.  He learns about witches.  In some ways, this book is rather like a book of short stories, with one story arc that ties them all together.  It makes for quick, enjoyable reading. 

It makes it hard to put the bloody book down!

It all comes to a head a few years later with a marvelous ending that I dare not spoil here.  You will just have to read it.

Bod is an endearing little guy.  From diapers, through first loves, first heartbreaks and first haunts, to starting out on his own, you can’t help but come to care for this character.  He is one of those one-of-a-kind characters, the kind that never really leave you.   His story is haunting, it is familiar, it is a must read.  For me he takes up a spot with Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Coraline, and other such unforgettable characters. 

And now I must read The Jungle Book, which is apparently somewhat of a model for the story.  Then I plan on listening to the audio.  Can’t think of much better than having Neil Gaiman read this to me. 

This would be perfect for Carl’s Mini-challenge, taking place during the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon!

Also reviewed by:

Kailana | Carl V. | Stuff as Dreams | Stacey | Jessica | Nymeth |

11 thoughts on “The Graveyard Book

  1. I am glad you enjoyed this book! I really liked it myself. It is one of my favourites by Gaiman. If all of his books were like this, I probably would like him better. I know, I am one of the few people that doesn't love him!

  2. I need to call Susan to-day and ask if she's finished with it yet. lol

    I'm so glad you liked it! Now I'm wishing I'd bought it. And my library doesn't have it. Can you believe that?!

  3. Fantastic review, I'm so glad it was as endearing a read for you as it was for me and so many of the rest of us. This is definitely a must-own book. The illustrations are both lovely and creepy at the same time and set such a pitch perfect tone for the story. I am really impressed by the entire production. Bod is a character that you cannot help but cling to because, boy or girl, you can see so much of yourself in him as he grows up and confronts life. It was so very, very good. It is a mere two days before I go to Nebraska to help the family move and on the way we will be listening to the audio version of this. I am as excited about Mary 'reading' it as I am to hear Neil read it to me.

  4. You are right, it would be good for the challenge 🙂

    I was here to remind you about the read-a-thon 🙂 But I m glad, that you already remember and are excited about it as much as I am 🙂

    Have fun participating!!
    On Oct 18th!

    For Read-a-thon
    My BLOG

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