Tuesday 28 September 2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Pages - 289
Published in 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.
The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

When I first started blogging, all I ever read was how wonderful Neil Gaiman was and to be honest, I felt a little bit intimidated by him.  I felt like I was in the presence of a fantasy hero or a literary God and I found myself cowering in subordination.  I had read American Gods and enjoyed it, though looking back I am not sure if I understood it properly. However over the last few months I have tentatively tiptoed in Gaiman's world through his graphic novels and  his children's books and I feel like I have come home and I am searching around my property for everything Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book is utterly awesome. Sad, I mean, Kleenex tissue sad by the end, but utterly awesome.
The story begins with the murder of  a little boy's family. The murders are dealt with with the least amount of gore by Gaiman, so that even though you are perfectly aware of what has occurred, you are  not  imagining blood and guts.  The little boy escapes being murdered by crawling out of the house and into the local graveyard, where he is taken in by the kindly Owens. This sounds normal, until you learn that the Owens are ghosts. Yep, the little boy is to be raised by ghosts and a rather unusual man called Silas, who frequents the graveyard.  The boy who is named Nobody Owens, is given the Freedom of the Graveyard, which allows him to perform actions that no other human would be able to attempt. The book follows Bod's life up until the age of sixteen, as he deals with loneliness, individuality and danger.

Gaiman makes this  storyline believable and from the first line I was sucked into the book and couldn't put it down. I love anything paranormal and this book was right up my street.  The darkness of the beginning reminded me of the first Batman movie, when Bruce's parents were killed.  I loved Bod completely, but I was in tears by the end.  I am not going to give away any spoilers,but the ending left me with a sense of loss and loneliness, that I felt Bod would feel and wouldn't be able to curb until his own demise. I was left wanting more, I wanted to know what became of Bod, all alone in the world and I felt like petitioning Neil Gaiman personally, demanding a continuation of the story in order to give me closure.

If you haven't read this book, then I would highly recommend you do.  This is an ideal book to begin your journey with into the dark and wild world of Neil Gaiman.

Other reviews of The Graveyard Book


  1. This is (still) on my TBR, because like you, being new to blogging, I'm very intimidated by Neil Gaiman.

  2. Wonderful review, Vivienne.

    I've read Bad Omens(by Gaiman and Pratchett) and Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Gaiman and I just didn't like it. The latter was just so much gore and violence and weird so I'm a little afraid his style just doesn't suit me.

  3. You could be right about why people feel intinidated by Neil Gaiman - like Ladybug I've read Bad Omens but, as yet, haven't got around to reading any of the books with NG as the sole author.

    A great review, I like both the look (what a wonderful cover) and sound of this one.

  4. Viv I love that you refer to Gaiman as a literary god of sorts! It's so true. And, after reading his blog for a bit, I think that he is one of the coolest authors that exist.

    I do have a secret though. I am a bigger fan of his young adult and children's works than his adult books. Er, although I truly only have American Gods to base that opinion on. Overall, I just wasn't a big fan of AG. I thought the story was brilliant, well researched, interesting, and everything else that should cause a book to be on my top ten list, but it just didn't work for me. Weird, no?


  5. You've convinced me! I keep meaning to read Gaiman, and have finally just requested this one from my library. I like your cover better though...

  6. i've only read one graphic novel ever and it was a bit of a challenge for me. i did see the 'coraline' movie and found it dark and a tad disturbing and haven't picked up any gaiman since then. perhaps i should start with this one? :) i'll give it a try ALL because you changed your comments to allow for name/url. thank you SO much!

  7. Yay Vivienne! I'm so happy you loved this book! :D Yep, the end had me sitting with the tissue box, too...but yet I thought the end was the way it was meant to be all along.

  8. I was intimidated by Gaiman but, like you, was HOOKED immediately at the first line. I absolutely loved this book. BUT I still haven't read anything else by him. Oops.

  9. Gaiman has been kind of hit or miss for me--loved Stardust but Neverwhere was just OK. I liked Coraline but the illustrations gave me nightmares. :) This one sounds amazing, though, and I'm glad you liked it. Despite not having closure--sometimes that's tough to swallow!

  10. Great review!
    This is like the only book I have liked on audio, much thanks to him being an amazing narrator

  11. Irisonbooks - I am glad to hear I am not alone.

    Ladybug - I don't do blood and gore very well either. This book really didn't have any.

    Petty Witter - the cover is just to die for (pardon the pun). I haven't read anything yet that is written by Neil Gaiman and a partner.

    Christina - I have just started to read his blog and I have to say it is really good. American Gods wasn't my favourite either. I have Neverwhere next to read and I hope to read Stardust soon.

    JoAnn - go for it. You won't regret it. Just have a big box of tissues ready for when you finish.

    Nat - it is lovely to see you back on my blog. Sorry your pathway was blocked before. I hope you enjoy this one. Coraline was definitely creepy, but I don't mind creepy.

    Debi - I am glad you liked the ending, unfortunately, I didn't like that he never got to see anyone anymore. Talk about instant closure!

    Amy - I am glad you were caught up in it too.

    Trish - I hope to read Neverwhere next. I know Ana loved it and she said it was a bit like Un Lun Dun which I read earlier in the year. Sorry that you didn't really like it though.

    Blodeuedd - i really wish I could get into audio books. It must have been fabulous, listening to Gaiman read it.

  12. I actually got an autographed copy of this - Neil Gaiman drew a little grave marker with my name on it in the book. I need to try to read it soon. I have to say I love the UK cover!!

  13. Kathy - how cool is that! I am so envious. YOu must read it now.

  14. I read this during last year's readathon and loved it! Two of three of my boys have read it too. I love that cover - I hadn't seen it before!

  15. Amanda - that is the UK cover and I must admit I prefer it to the American cover. I wonder if my girls might like it too.

  16. I loved this book when we listened to it on CD last year. Scary, but not too gory for kids (unlike some of his graphic novels).

  17. Great review Vivienne! I just know I'm going to love this one. Must get it soon.

  18. I cried at the end of this one too. I think it's my favorite book by Gaiman.

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  20. Glad you liked it. I have it in my TBR. I've heard nothing but good things about it. Great review!

  21. Wow! This sounds like a must-read! Awesome review!

  22. I'm so glad you love Neil Gaiman! I'll be rereading this book this month as I've just chosen it for my online book club..

  23. I'm so glad you liked this! Isn't it just a wonderful book? Yes, it is sad in some parts...Kleenex sad. I also like his books Neverwhere and Stardust.

  24. Hi Viv, I'm so glad you loved this book! I read it the moment it was released and available in the bookstore. It's a book I'm thinking of re-reading too.

  25. Texas Red - I think that is what I loved about it. Dealing with a subject that would normally be considered scary, it wasn't at all.

    Iliana - you must!

    Ladytink - glad to hear I am not the only one who cried.

    Naida - thank you. I hope you like it too.

    Suko - thank you.

    Sheila - sorry to add to your book pile.LOL

    Clover - I need to know more about this online book club....

    Amanda - I hope too read Neverwhere as my next Neil Gaiman book.

    Alice - this is definitely a book that can be reread.

  26. This book sounds really good but I'm a bit worried it might be too much for me, emotionally.

  27. You described perfectly how I feel abourt him. I just don't know where to start and everyone raves about him. Maybe this is the one. I love the cover and the story sounds just my kind of thing too.


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