The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Yes its a kids book. I read kids books. I also read those called ‘young adult’ and ones that work best read aloud to small people.

That does not stop this possibly being the best thing Neil Gaiman has ever written. And I am a HUGE American Gods fan.

The Graveyard book is scary without making you terrified of sleeping. Truthful despite being about a boy who grows up in a graveyard. Heartbreaking as only Gaiman seems to know how to be, by bashing your heart but leaving it beating.

It follows the story of Nobody Owens, known to his family and friends as ‘Bod’. After his family are murdered he is taken in by the ghosts at the local graveyard/nature reserve and the mysterious Silas becomes his guardian. He grows up in the relative safety among the graves, though beyond the gates lies the living world and its dangers, including Bod’s would-be murderer.

The writing for this novel is just exquisite. You can imagine every single character, every grave, every ghost, without ever thinking ‘you know, this is a bit vague’. It is well paced and frightening right from the start. Gaiman is among only a few authors who are prepared to scare the daylights out of children. Dahl did it magnificently as, so I’m told, did Diana Wynne Jones. Now Gaiman, with Coraline and The Graveyard Book, can be proud of scaring adults along with kids with both his adult and children’s novels.

My heart raced as the book came toward the end, the tension built up so much I was incredibly annoyed when I was disturbed by housemates coming into the kitchen. I was deeply upset when a favourite character was clearly not to return, and constantly intrigued by who or what Silas really was.

Part of the real genius of telling children’s stories is not to give them all the answers. Children like to guess and to be encouraged to make up their own minds about characters. You’ll always get five completely different opinions about Charlie from the chocolate factory when you ask five children, and the same I suspect would be the same with Bod. Kids would also be crazy about Silas, and the evil Jack.

I completely, one hundred percent recommend reading this book. Fan of Gaiman or not. In fact, I have previously said Coraline is a great starting point for newbies, I was wrong, it is The Graveyard Book which will tell you if you are going to be a fan or not.


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2 Responses to The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

  1. I don’t know, there was something about this book that just didn’t quite do it for me. I wish I could put my finger on exactly what that was, because I hate saying anything less than “I loved it” without having a reason.

    It’s not a bad book; the writing was beautiful (this is a given with any of Gaiman’s stories), and there were parts of the book that I loved. It just didn’t work for me as a whole; something about it rung untrue for me, whatever that something was.

    I loved Coraline. It’s my absolute favorite Neil Gaiman book of all time. And, American Gods is awesome! 🙂 Have you read Neverwhere or Ocean at the End of the Lane? Both of those are amazing; I think that, aside from Coraline, those are my second favorites.

    • BeccaH says:

      Yes I have read them, I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of Gaiman’s novels apart from some of his short stories and the Sandman series.

      Its a shame you didn’t get the same enjoyment out of TGB as I (and Diana Wynne Jones) did, perhaps you did not become as engrossed with the central characters as you have previously? If I did not care for Bod, Mrs Owens or Silas I doubt I would have cared much beyond the beauty of the writing.

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