The Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman
Reviewed by Dom
Every October we select a book that’s either creepy or downright frightening. This year I thought it would be interesting to choose a book set in a graveyard, one that’s filled with eccentric characters from a variety of eras.
Neil Gaiman wrote The Graveyard Book for a young adult audience, but it’s enjoyable at any age. It’s a story about a little boy - only 18 months old - who barely escapes when a vicious killer known only as “Jack” murders his family. (I know, not your usual “sunshine and puppies” tale for kids, but give it a chance.)
The toddler ends up in a graveyard near his home. The various ghosts and ghouls who inhabit the cemetery realize that the child is parentless, and they adopt the tiny human. They name him “Nobody,” and call him Bod, for short.
So what you have is a delightful riff on Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” only set among the dead. As he grows into his teens, Bod learns (ironically) life lessons from the many ghosts who are his constant companions. Plus, he learns a bit about dealing with the big-bad-world outside the graveyard gates.
But Jack is still around, and still looking for the child who got away.
This is a quick read, and I loved the way each chapter contained a vignette, of sorts. It’s not too different from a book of short stories, each following the growth of Bod from 18 months to his teens. Gaiman is a master at setting the scene, and his character development is always outstanding.
If you’re a fan of the author’s adult work, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise with this story crafted for kids. And, c’mon, it’s Halloween season! You need a good graveyard book, right?
Find it for 20% off at all three locations of The Tattered Cover Book Store when you mention The Dom and Jane Book Club.