Review Detail4.3 18
Neil Gaimans The Graveyard Book opens with a pretty terrifying situation. A man has slaughtered a family in the middle of the night, all save a toddler who escapes unharmed, walking out the front door and away from the mayhem. Up the hill trots the toddler, to a graveyard full of ghosts who take him in. By the end of the first chapter Gaiman has established the graveyard as the storys center. Within its reassuringly locked gates, the boy finds a safe and cozy place to grow up.
Among the dead are teachers, workers, wealthy prigs, romantics, pragmatists and even a few children, basically a good place for a baby to live in. And they do, ably led by Silas, an enigmatic character who is not really one of them, being not quite dead and not quite living. In this moonlit place, the boy who is given the name Nobody Owens, or Bod for short has adventures, makes friends (not all of them dead), and begins to learn about his past and consider his future. Along the way, he encounters hideous ghouls, a witch, middle school bullies and an otherworldly fraternal order that holds the secrets of his familys murder by the man Jack. When he is 12 things change, and he learns why hes been in the graveyard all this time and what he needs to do to leave.
While The Graveyard Book will entertain people of all ages, its especially a tale for children. Gaimans remarkable cemetery is a place that children more than anyone would want to visit. They would certainly want to look for Silas in his chapel, maybe climb down (if they were as brave as Bod) to the oldest burial chamber, or (if they were as reckless) search for the ghoul gate. Children will appreciate Bods occasional mistakes and bad manners, and relish his good acts and eventual great ones. The storys language and humor are sophisticated, but Gaiman respects his readers and trusts them to understand.