I am reposting this 2013 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $1.99.
Takeaway: All of life is about growing up.
I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman. I think he is one of the most innovative writers around. And I love that he concentrates mostly on fairy tale stories, whether for adults or kids. Many of them are a bit creepy and a little twisted, but at heart they are fairy tales.
The Graveyard Book is the only one of Gaiman’s full length books that I have not previously read. It is intended as a young adult book. Not as young as Coraline, but still appropriate for middle grade and up, if the kids enjoy and can handle creepy and dark stories. (I say this as a person that in general hates creepy stories.)
The book opens with murder. A family is murdered, mother, father, sister. But the baby, about 18 months old, crawls out of the crib and walks away before the killer finds him. The family lives near a graveyard and the baby walks there. The ghosts see he is in trouble, hide him from the killer and agree to raise him there in the graveyard. He is given the freedom of the graveyard. So he can talk to and learn from the ghosts. He can move through the walls and into the crypts. He is taught to Fade and produce fear. And he learns about some of the darker and older things that are in the graveyard.
Throughout the book Silas is his guardian. (We never really know what he is, although there are strong hint. We do know he is not a ghost and he can move around and get food and clothes for the boy.) But the boy also has a particular set of parents, the Owens. They never had a child of their own, and the boy is named after them. He is Nobody Owens (Bod for short).
Mostly this is a coming of age story. We know, and the ghosts know, that Bod cannot live in the graveyard forever. At some point he will grow too old.
I read this on kindle (checked out from the library). But I listened to the audiobook sample as well. Gaiman is the narrator and you can never go wrong with Gaiman as the narrator. He is one of the best narrators out there, and I think the very best author narrator I know of. He has just the right voice for the just slightly creepy stories that he tends to write. But there is a real sense of kindness in the voice that moderates the creepy factor.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Read Again)
- Neverwhere (first reading)
- American Gods
- Good Omens (co-authored with Terry Pattchet)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane
- Click-Clack The Raddlebag (Short Story)