"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

" After the grisly murder of his entire family a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack- - - who has already killed Bod's family. "

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Neil Gaiman knows how to turn an innocent childhood into a terror-filled one. 'The Graveyard Book' revolves around a young boy named Nobody Owens. What makes him different from everyone else is that he lives in a graveyard where he's being raised by the ghostly residents. Nobody, or Bod (as his friends call him), ended up here after his family was brutally murdered, which actually doesn't seem to bother him too much throughout the story. Right from the beginning, readers get to follow the murderer as he makes his way through Bod's house, killing all the members of the family except for Bod, who fortunately manages to get away.


Yet, when Bod showed up at the graveyard, not all the residents wanted to keep the boy, but when a woman in grey appears, she settles the argument by telling them to keep him - - - bringing in the woman in grey seemed as though it only happened to introduce the character, which, unfortunately she is only seen one other time throughout the entire novel; this character really wasn't necessary. When Bod is kept, he is given the "Freedom of the Graveyard," which gives him the ability to see and talk to ghosts, as well as other things. This makes for a very intriguing adventure for us readers.


This book is almost flawless with the concept being very original. I honestly have nothing bad to say about the story. Gaiman doesn't use the usual horror tropes, instead he describes horrific events through the eyes of Bod, as he becomes more familiar with the world outside of the graveyard. Gaiman explains all of Bod's natural needs effortlessly within a graveyard, such as Bod learning to read and spell by using the letters on headstones. This book will surely change the way you look at graveyards for the rest of your life, if you hadn't already seen them in this way. 'The Graveyard Book' is a different type of ghost story, where the reader isn't afraid of the spirits, but rather of the living.


Later on in 'the Graveyard Book,' we meet a character named Scarlett. She is one of the only friends that Bod makes who is alive. For the majority of the book, Scarlett believes that Bod is just her imaginary friend, as her mother brings her to the graveyard every day to play (by this time, it is a claimed nature reserve) . But later on, when Scarlett returns as a teenager, she realizes that Bod is actually a real person. My only complaint about Scarlett's character is that the reader gets to see her dream walk- - - something we have been told only ghosts, supernatural creatures and Bod can do- - - yet, this is never explained why she is able to do this. It leaves one to wonder if Scarlett is a supernatural being or just a human with a particular ability?


" One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls. Wander any graveyard long enough and you will find it- - - waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds about it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment. It may be colder than the other gravestones, too, and the name on the stone is all too often impossible to read. If there is a statue on the grave it will be headless or so scabbed with fungus and lichens as to look like a fungus itself. If one grave in a graveyard looks like a target for petty vandals, that is the ghoul-gate. If the grave makes you want to be somewhere else, that is the ghoul-gate. " The ghoul-gate has it's own entire scene in the book, but I wish the ghouls had been in the story quite a bit more. Overall, Gaiman wrote a very pleasing book that looks at ghosts in a different light. He brings up real life fears and fictional ones as well. Unfortunately, the book was written in 2008, and it doesn't seem that Gaiman is working on a sequel, so some questions may never be answered for the readers.


I really liked this book, and I think readers who enjoy paranormal aspects will love this story, too. As far as a ghost story goes, this one I highly recommend, but if you are looking for scares, I suggest you look elsewhere.


- Hadley







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