Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Review: The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Published: 2008, Bloomsbury.

Acquired: Sent to me by Luisa at Chicklish (original review can be found here: http://keris.typepad.com/chicklet/2009/11/review-the-graveyard-book-by-neil-gaiman.html)

I reviewed Coraline for Chicklish earlier in the year and absolutely adored it (coincidentally, I did think the film was a bit of a let down but that’s by the by) and I’ve always been a massive Neil Gaiman fan. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Graveyard Book but I’ve never read a Gaiman book I didn’t love so I had very high expectations.

Nobody Owens (or Bod, as we get to call him) had a tragic start to life. His family were brutally murdered by the man Jack when he was just a baby. However, something let Bod survive and he found himself in the graveyard, where he was adopted by the Owen family (who are ghosts, naturally). Bod is raised in the graveyard and educated by a Hound of God (werewolf, to you and me) and his guardian, Silas, a mysterious being who isn’t quite alive but isn’t quite dead either.

The man Jack is still out there, though. He’s still searching for Bod and won’t rest until he’s dead, for reasons that we don’t quite understand at the beginning of the novel. Of course, when Bod grows up he becomes increasingly curious about the human world; the world that his parents had begun to raise him in.

Bod has questions, questions about his parents and his past and he wants answers. The Owens and Silas will stop at nothing to keep him safe but Bod soon outgrows the confines of the graveyard and wants an adventure in the human world, though it is a place where he will always be hunted, by the man Jack and his terrifying accomplices.

As I said before, I’ve always been a huge fan of Gaiman and the things I love about his other books are wonderfully present in The Graveyard Book. The dark wit, the fantastical landscapes and the constant feeling of unease; all the classic Gaiman elements are there and this book is sure to satisfy every fan and fantasy lover alike.

I particularly love the different tones that Gaiman uses as Bod matures. At the beginning of the novel the prose is simple and childlike (though still insanely creepy): ‘He could smell the baby shampoo in its hair, and something small and rubbery – a toy, he thought, and then, no, something to suck – that the child had been carrying.’

However, as Bod grows up so does the imagery Gaiman uses and as the story becomes darker, the prose becomes more beautiful too: ‘Now his face was a book written in a language long forgotten, in an alphabet unimagined. Silas wrapped the shadows around him like a blanket, and stared after the way the boy had gone, and did not move to follow.’ Stunning.

It’s normally at this point I’d mention the parts of the book I didn’t like but, honestly, with The Graveyard Book, I adored it all. I had to force myself not to read it all in one sitting, as I wanted to enjoy the story for as long as possible. I wholeheartedly agree with the Financial Times, who said that The Graveyard Book is ‘a novel that is a captivating piece of work, light as fresh grave dirt, haunting as the inscription on a tombstone.’ I think that says it all.


Writing: 4.5/5

Plot: 4/5

Characters: 4/5

Cover: 3/5

Total: 15.5/20


  1. Like you I read Coraline and just adored it. It is such a great and fun book...also a little bit creepy..
    This one sounds so good, I wanted to read this for a long time, I think i should buy a copy soon. :)
    Thanks for the great review.

  2. I love this story! It's quite popular with my middle school teens too which is nice. Makes a great read-aloud. (I do prefer the US cover however. Which is surprising actually!)

  3. I can't wait to read The Selection. Thanks a lot for the giveaway!
    essay policy


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.