While technically written for children, the book presents themes of murder, suicide, and the grotesque—though it does so non-graphically. While I, as an adult, enjoyed it, I wouldn't consider this one for my children until they're well over the age of 10.
Oddly (or fittingly, depending on how you look at it), the non-living secondary characters had a tendency to feel more “real” to this reader than the living ones. Scarlett, for example—despite a promising introductory start, turned out to be disappointingly flat and obtuse. While on the other hand, Liza the long-dead witch girl, was a vibrant and fascinating addition to Bod's constricted world.
I've been told that Neil Gaiman writes best when he keeps it well below epic length, and I believe I'm going to agree with that assessment. His literary style is (as usual) crisp, concise, and brimming with morbid imagination. This book felt more on par with 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' --but a bit more playful, and with more effort poured into both the main character and the world-building. On the down side...the second half of story felt a bit dragged out, and the amount of things kept from the reader (and Bod) felt needlessly secretive at times. Without spoilering anything, I'll also mention that when the explanation is finally given, it wasn't entirely satisfying. This reader's expectations were, perhaps, set a bit high.
The element I least cared for would probably be the monochromatic illustrations. While included only occasionally, I didn't particularly like the blandness of the style. There were times the image selected simply didn't feel significant enough to the scene to be worthy of inclusion.
“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”