The Graveyard Book
Beautifully illustrated, delightfully creepy, wonderfully written- Neil Gaiman has done it again. His love of the macabre has transcended into yet another novel depicting otherworldly happenings. The Graveyard Book is a tale of a boy, orphaned at a young age, and adopted by a graveyard. Gaiman uses his delectable talent to spin a coming of age tale in an unlikely place.
Nobody Owens doesn’t know where he came from, or why someone is out to get him. His adoptive parents found him in the graveyard as a baby, and despite being ghosts they took him in to their crypt. It was there, in the graveyard, that Nobody, Bod for short, would learn all the typical lessons a child should learn- don’t leave the graveyard, don’t steal from graves, fade into walls when you’re in danger, stay away from ghoul gates. His adventures in the graveyard (and outside, in the few occasions that he makes it there) are padded with guidance and warnings from his eerie guardian, Silas, a creature neither dead nor alive. The story climaxes in the last few chapters with a battle between good and evil, and wanes at the end with a bittersweet goodbye that I feel isn’t quite satisfying enough for the relationship a reader builds with the story.
Despite that, the overall experience is a joy to read. Particularly good bits in the story are those in which Gaiman’s sense of humor shine through. His humor is sort of lofty and sarcastic, and if you’re not careful you’ll pass right on through. It would seem as though Gaiman has a love for history and folklore, and this love comes out in surprising ways throughout the book, oftentimes cracking jokes about “Olde English” that are over a younger reader’s head.
Though The Graveyard Book is marketed for youngsters, adults will enjoy its creepiness. While speaking to ghosts and living in graves would seem weird and creepy to a normal person (and to the one live friend Nobody makes), Neil Gaiman beautifully depicts how normal and boring familiar surroundings can seem to a child, even though his upbringing would not be considered typical. The book has a lovely nostalgic feeling for adults, despite its strange story, and it sort of makes you want to stay up late at night and read the book under the covers with a flashlight.