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.
First of all, my many million thanks to Anne @ Inked Brownies for the giveaway. I’m telling ya… If I was as lucky winning the lotto as I am at winning books I would be a rich puppy!
The Graveyard Book was my first Gaiman book. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I adore the cover and the illustrations in the book. Chris Riddell has mega talent, love it!
What’s the book about? One night the man Jack, a killer, enters a family house and does away with a father, a mother and their daughter. The youngest of the family, a little baby boy hears the commotion, recognises it as an opportunity to break out of his cot and crawls out of the house, up the hill, towards the old graveyard. He slips through the graveyard gates and meets Mr and Mrs Owens. They are ghosts who live in the graveyard. Mrs Owens gets asked by the boy’s mother, who’s now also a ghost, that they protect him. And so the boy will stay in the graveyard, he will be named Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. Bod is given the Freedom of the Graveyard which allows him to see all the inhabitants of the place and Silas, his appointed guardian who is not dead nor alive, will make sure Bod will get food and education.
The man Jack, however, always finishes what he started so the boy remains in danger. And really, there’s more to the story than the man Jack just being a psychopath! There’s so much more.
My thoughts: Some might think a graveyard really isn’t the best place to choose for a setting. That nothing happens there other than silence, peace, some candles and flowers and sadness. I didn’t know what to expect from this book. But I was hoping for that certain feeling and the book delivered. When I was younger, and still lived in Estonia, I used to always walk to the graveyard whenever I felt like I needed to get away from everyone. The feeling of slight anxiety, the feeling of, yes, sadness, but the peace and silence is striking and for some reason my outlook on life always changed after a graveyard visit. Maybe it was simply all the fresh air. Our graveyards are truly quite wooded areas with lots of trees.
As for the story, I am glad Gaiman used some of the endless possibilities and different characters a graveyard can offer. The graveyard itself is an old one and so in this book there are a lot of ghosts from 19th and early 20th century with the manners and mannerisms from history, each ghost with their own story and place in Bod’s life. A small detail in the book, but which truly still stands out for me, was the mention of headstone messages. I don’t know why it lodged so firmly into my head, but I thought that was a really fitting touch to the story.
I doubt anybody could really fault the writing in this book. It’s just quality as one would expect. And to sensitive readers out there- it’s not a spooky story at all. It’s more of a quirky one where boy ends up in a strange setting, a coming-of-age story really. Bod learns a lot from the ghosts- not only about past, but about what it means to be human. It’s about making mistakes, going through childhood rebellion, realizing who you’re friends are and doing something good for others. All of this with a touch of paranormal. The twist at the end of the story was great. I didn’t see that coming and the ending lifted my spirits. The ending has a good message!
Funnily enough throughout reading this book I did have a feeling like it felt familiar. The young boy in an ‘abnormal’ setting and when I reached the acknowledgement piece at the end of the book Gaiman mentioned The Jungle Book. I used to love reading about Mowgli as a child and perhaps that is the reason I felt like this was connecting with my inner child so well.
Overall a quick, comfortable read for young and old ones alike. 5 stars.