Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” So begins this novel about an ordinary boy in an extraordinary situation. When the sinister man Jack murders the boy’s family and comes after him, he manages to escape to the local graveyard and evade Jack for the time being. He is taken in by the ghostly inhabitants of the graveyard, who give him the name Nobody Owens. Bod grows up in the graveyard with certain abilities (such as Fading and Haunting) but certain limitations (such as not interacting with living people). He loves his family in the graveyard but is also curious about the outside world. The older Bod gets, the more he is drawn to the world of the living; but the man Jack is still looking for him, and he must confront many dangers before he can truly begin to live his life.
This book is a wonderfully atmospheric tale, perfect for a chilly autumn evening. Gaiman’s descriptions are evocative and often spooky, from the menace of Jack and his associates to the slavering ghouls to the ancient power of the Sleer. Bod is a grave (pun intended) but likable child, and his adventures both in and out of the graveyard make for entertaining reading. I also loved Silas, Bod’s guardian, and I would have liked to know more about him. The ending is sad in some ways, but it feels absolutely right for the story. My only complaint is that this book is less substantial than Gaiman’s work for adults (Neverwhere is still my favorite), but I definitely enjoyed it nonetheless.
10 thoughts on “Review: The Graveyard Book”
I would probably list Gaiman as my favorite author (or at least top 5), and yet, this is one of his that I STILL haven’t read. I always tell myself I’ll wait till this time of year rolls around, and then I still overlook it. I ought to make an effort this year! I kind of love his slightly creepy, slightly sweet, slightly sad stories.
“Slightly creepy, slightly sweet, slightly sad” describes it perfectly! I found it a very easy read, so I’d definitely recommend making time for it this fall if you can! I am still making my way through Neil Gaiman’s work; so far, in addition to this, I’ve read Neverwhere, Stardust, and the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors.
Graveyard Book is such a wonderful read! it’s very different from a lot of his other books, seems much more atmospheric and ethereal, where most of his adult novels are more character driven.
The atmosphere was definitely my favorite aspect of the book!
This is such a fun one. Maybe not as dense as his books for adults, but I enjoy the faster pace too.
I agree — fast-paced is generally a good thing, in my opinion!
I loved Graveyard Book when I read it a few years ago. Gaiman is fantastic at setting a mood. And I think the subtle allusions to The Jungle Book were pretty interesting too. Thanks for your comments!
Sadly, I have never read The Jungle Book! I did see the Disney movie, but I’m sure some of the allusions were still lost on me. 🙂 It would be cool to read them back to back!