[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]
[Mine was this sort of blue generic cover, but there are a ton of different versions]
“Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other.”
We meet again, Gaiman.
I have had this one in my queue for awhile especially after hearing that they’re supposedly making an animated movie for it [not sure if that’s still happening, though?] If you couldn’t guess from the title and the summary, this book is a bit of a tip of the hat to The Jungle Book, [though thankfully not at all racist] which very much inspired Gaiman for this story. The Graveyard Book is technically aimed for children, but it has some pretty mature themes going on, and everything is a bit macabre. I definitely enjoyed it, and I feel like I’d like to read it to kids at least 8-10 since it does obviously include some not-so-friendly ghosts [and ghosts that didn’t meet pleasant ends], but also demons and murder.
You start out with learning of why Bod [Short for Nobody Owens, his adopted name] is raised by ghosts, and it’s because he’s left an orphan by a mysterious and not-so-human being simply and ominously named Jack. He has two main ghost parents, but is raised by the entire cemetery in one way or another. He is good friends with a [dead] Hempstock, which if you are familiar with Gaiman’s other books [I’ve reviewed some here as well] you’ll recognize her last name. But his guardian is named Silas, who is neither living nor dead, and neither human nor creature. Lastly, Bod meets a human little girl named Scarlett, who first thinks he’s an imaginary friend, only to realize that years later, he is in fact a real person.
The subtitle of this book should be: The Graveyard Book: Bod is a shithead. Understandably he’s a child full of energy and doesn’t understand why he has to stay within the confines of the cemetery, but because of this, and not wanting to listen to the rules he’s been given, he gets in countless amount of trouble and this same trouble is what gets others hurt, or killed. [And those who were already dead, are unable to have an afterlife – which is super shitty] Along the way you sort of learn and grow as Bod does, and Gaiman of course, is an expert at conveying emotion for you to feel towards the character.
My copy of the book has illustrations by Dave McKean, who often works with Gaiman, but there are actually quite a few different versions you can find with different artists. The book was so understandably popular that it even stemmed a few graphic novels, which I’d like to also read soon, especially before the movie. Also, Gaiman’s portrayal/description of Death is beautiful.
I legitimately love this book, and have already read it to quite a few of my friend’s kids and my younger siblings.
I give The Graveyard Book 5/5 Gross, Rotting Ghouls
“He could no more hug Silas than he could hold a moonbeam, not because his guardian was insubstantial, but because it would be wrong. There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.”