Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers. He’s a brilliant children’s author, he’s an amazing adult author… The man can do it all. The amazing thing about his children’s books however, is that they can also be read by adults and they don’t feel like they’re reading a children’s book. This is what The Graveyard Book is. It’s a children’s book that adults can happily read without feeling like it should be a bedtime story for their two-year-old.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
Much like Coraline, The Graveyard Book is a children’s book with underlying themes of horror. Gaiman tackles the boundaries of these two genres with ease and with perfection so that all age ranges can enjoy the horrors of a boy being friends with ghosts, who is also being hunted by a killer.
One of the awesome things about this book is that there are a handful of illustrations by Chris Riddell before every chapter. I love the way that Riddell draws, the illustrations are so unique and bizarre. After I had finished this book, I found Chris Riddell’s Tumblr where he showcases all of his sketches and I think I was looking at them for a couple of hours! I loved every single one of them.
“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
― Neil Gaiman,
What was interesting about The Graveyard Book was in every chapter, the character of Bod was older every time. For example, in chapter four he could be eleven, and then in chapter five, he could be thirteen. For Gaiman to write like this was very creative as is conveyed how Bod changed over the years as he was growing up in the graveyard and saw how his friendships developed and changed. Each chapter also tackles a different ‘problem’ each time; we are introduced to a new horror and all of these new characters intertwine to build up towards the incredible ending.
I feel like the only thing that lets this book down is that it’s a bit slow at the beginning and it takes about fifty pages to get into.
However, once you get past the slow start, this is an amazing book and one that I would thoroughly recommend for both children and adults.