Friday, January 16, 2009

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
By: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated By: Dave McKean
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Language: English
September 2008, $17.99
Genre: Childrens/ Fantasy

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. . . .


“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

We all know I heart Neil Gaiman in huge ginormous and ridonkulous ways. I generally devour and absolutely love everything that he writes and that is hard to say about authors sometimes. This book has been in my wishlist since I first heard about it and how could it not be when the premise is: What if Mowgli from the Jungle Book got raised by ghosts instead? Neil said that it was inspired “Around 1985 or 1986, we lived in a house with no garden, but we had a graveyard just over the run, so that was where my son Michael (three or four at the time) rode his little tricycle. And I remember watching him, and thinking it would be fun to do The Jungle Book, only set in a graveyard instead of a jungle, and that was the start of it. Because I tend to be fairly slow about these things, it's taken me...twenty-two years to get to it." It’s okay Neil I am happy to wait those 20 years if the Graveyard Book is what comes of it.

What is there not to like, no scratch that love, about this story. It combines the whimsy of ghosts, ghouls and a graveyard with a poignant story about growing up. But I don’t think the metaphor is beaten into you, but easily accessible. It’s a story that children can enjoy, but that adults can as well and did I mention it has great drawings by Dave McKean (Not to get off topic but I absolutely love this resurgence of stories with artists that aren’t just for kids…see Backup by Jim Butcher and Mike Mignola and I heart Dave as much as I do Neil…see Mirrormask or most of his body of work). Every one of Bod’s adventures was a joy to read (I especially liked Danse Macabre or the bewitching Liza…she’s snarky, whats not to like) and some of the characters I desperately want to know more about (Silas in particular). Bod is never unlikable, even when he is being selfish because I was there once and I still am (curiosity will kill this kitty, but satisfaction will bring me right back). The entire tale is endearing and one I have every intention of reading to my hypothetical children when I eventually do have them.

When it ended, it was bittersweet. I didn’t need more and yet I wanted more, but then I usually do with Gaiman’s works. There is humor, magic, suspense and delight within these pages and I could not recommend it enough.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


Hagelrat said...

I could not love this book any more!! Of course I suffer from Gaimanitis too.

thebonebreaker said...

This is on my current book list. . .

Great Review!