The Graveyard Book begins with the murder of a family in modern Britain by the man Jack, but somehow the youngest of the family – a toddler – was able to slip away unnoticed. He ended up in a graveyard where he was quickly accepted by its late inhabitants and adopted into the family. He is given a name – Nobody Owens – given a guardian – Silas, who walks between death and life –and a family – the Owens’ a nice family that were among the older residents in the graveyard. The book follows Bod, as the boy prefers, as he grows up in the care of the dead, all the while still hunted by the man Jack.
This book felt satisfying. It felt like curling up by a rainy window, hot cut of chai tea, and a free day to sit and enjoy. There was no real rush to the book; Gaiman meandered through Bod’s life growing up in the graveyard focusing on certain adventure he’d undergo or periods of his life in a relaxing, almost whimsical way. It felt like a series of short stories carefully written together to be one novel.
One of the things I love about Neil Gaiman is that he never reveals the whole world he’s created. What I mean by that is this: this story takes place in our modern world but we know throughout the book that more exists (the graveyard, Silas, ect), and beyond that more exists in this world (and we see glimpses of it) but we’re never shown everything. Gaiman leaves so much to the imagination of the reader allowing us to wonder about what else is out there and how it interacts with our world. He tells one story and follows it where it leads.
Oh, and there’s pictures! I’m really a sucker for art in books. I’ve heard a few people who aren’t thrilled with the idea of pictures in a middle reader book, but I think the artwork matches the story and the tone of the writing so well and to not include it in a publication would just be silly.
Even though I love it, Graveyard is really a children’s book. It’s lighthearted at times – serious and adventurous in others. It works for boys and girls, and it’s the perfect combination of ghost story, and fantasy.