The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

ImageI started this book a few months ago, but stopped because I had to read some school books and for some reason never went back to it. I really didn’t know what I was missing. It’s my first Gaiman book (even though I own Stardust, Good Omens, a novelization of Sandman and some of his short stories) and I went in with high expectations, it did not disappoint. Although it did leave some unanswered questions.

It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

The graveyard Book tells the story of a boy named Nobody Owens, who, quite literally, grew up in a graveyard. When he was a baby a man killed his parents and his sister, but could not kill him, which sounds very Harry Potter-ish. Trust me when I say it’s not. Bod crawled his way to the graveyard at the top of the hill and there he was adopted by two ghosts, the Owens. He’s given the freedom of the graveyard, which allows him to do things that ghosts do while he’s perfectly alive. The killer, the man Jack, is still out there though.

I like the way Gaiman makes each character’s voice completely different and the ghosts all speak the way they would at the time they died, which made it seem more real. There are also all sorts of things in the graveyard (and out of it), like ghouls, Hounds of God (werewolves), witches and night-gaunts (sort of a bird thing), but there are some things that are not really explained. Silas (Bod’s guardian), for example, we never find out what he really is, all we know is that he’s neither dead nor alive.

And that is only one of the unanswered questions. Where does Silas come from? What sort of creature were the man Jack and the other Jacks? What did their organization really do? Why could Scarlett dreamwalk? What does the Honor Guard? I’d really like to know. But, again, as a John Green fan, I’m familiar with unexplained endings and Gaiman’s was not even that bad. It’s just that the story moved somewhat slowly for most of the book and only picked up in the end, which (to me) was somewhat rushed. I think those are the only things that bothered me a bit, but ultimately didn’t stop me from liking the book.

From the things that I loved, one of them was the first chapter. The man Jack’s point of view was really creepy and shilling, I could almost taste the dampness of the air and the darkness that engulfed him. There’s just something magical about the way Gaiman writes.

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade fiercer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been but, not at immediately.
(…)
The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.

Another thing I loved were the ghouls, they were really funny, with their too big names and manners. There was the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, the Emperor of China and the 33rd President of the United States. Seriously, reading those names made me laugh every single time, I kept imagining some little, dirty things with such big pompous names and such a bad smell.

The Graveyard Book is also richly illustrated, all the shades of grey. I loved the ghosty feel they have and the way the things take shape as if forming out of mist. It definitely added to the general atmosphere of the book.

I really want to pick up another of Gaiman’s novels this summer, even though I’m afraid to read Good Omens because it had such a big hype around it. I’ll probably try another one before, and get more familiar with his style. Probably Stardust, since I loved the movie. But now that I’m back into full studying rhythm it’s going to take longer to finish a book, since up until now I was doing basically a book a day. Not to mention I’ve got to finish Jane Eyre.

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