by Neil Gaiman
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 . . .
After spending the majority of my teenage years struggling to read Neil Gaiman's work and convinced that he wasn't for me, I've managed to read three of his novels this year. My first read of 2014 was American Gods (reviewed here!), then in April I read Stardust, and now, as Halloween approaches, I thought it was finally time to read The Graveyard Book which, before this month, I'm fairly certain has been unread and sat on my shelves for almost ten years. Oops!
I've always loved bizarre, peculiar and spooky stories, so you'd think The Graveyard Book would be right up my alley, but the last time I tried to read it (several years ago now) I just couldn't get into it. In fact I struggled to get into the majority of Gaiman's stuff when I was younger; in the words of C. S. Lewis, I think I needed to wait until I was "old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
When I was compiling my Autumn TBR for Top Ten Tuesday I decided to include The Graveyard Book in the hope that I'd finally read it this year, and after I finished Blood Sinister (reviewed here!) that's just what I did.
My verdict? I loved it! In fact reading this book a second time made me wonder how I couldn't get into it the first time around, because once I'd begun I didn't want to stop. I didn't want this book to end.
I loved the idea of a child being raised by ghosts, and all of the characters were exquisite. Bod, in particular, is a charming protagonist. Gaiman's imagination is just so vast and wonderful that I feel as though I could bump into any one of those characters in the street - including the dead ones! From Silas to Miss Lupescu to Elizabeth Hempstock, I loved them all.
The story ended up being told differently to what I'd expected, but that was definitely a positive thing! I assumed that the majority of the book would revolve around Bod's quest for vengeance rather than Bod's childhood spent on a graveyard and all the adventures and peculiar characters he meets, and I'm so glad it was the latter - I can't remember the last time I read a book starring a younger protagonist that was so told so simplisticly but so beautifully. I wasn't bored for a second.
I'm torn between American Gods and The Graveyard Book as to which is my favourite Gaiman book; they're both such different stories, and while I adore American Gods and think it's Gaiman's masterpiece, I think The Graveyard Book might just be my new favourite. This book reminded me of being a child again. It's melancholic, and has a haunting fairy tale quality to it that swept me up and took me away from everything for a few hours.
I loved it. If you haven't already, read it!