Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

Synopsis: When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. This is a stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?

I am a fan of Neil Gaiman's body of work - right through from the Sandman series to the quirky M is For Magic, Fragile Things and Neverwhere. There are bigger novels like American Gods and Anansi Boys which plows through myths and legends and serves them up for your delight. If you can find copies of Odd and the Frost Giants, I would urge you to buy it - who said epic stories need to exceed more than 300 pages?

You can therefore imagine my fan-girl squeeling when I received my copy of The Graveyard Book weeks before being unshrouded here in the UK. After the initial squeeling, I had to put it away as I had others books to finish. But it kept calling to me. So, I allowed myself to be led astray.

The Graveyard Book is that unique cross-over collection of stories which form a novel that will appeal to both adults and children. It is written in a very unique style and you do come to think outside the box: and who said that ghosts could not raise a child? Everything is plausable and well thought out.

Gaiman makes it impossible for you not to like Bod or the world Bod inhabits. Each chapter could be read as a standalone short. In each chapter Bod is just that little bit older so you get interesting and poingnant vignettes of his adventures as he grows up and his experiences both within and without of the Graveyard.

I was delighted by the slightly macabre feel of the book, the line drawings by the amazing Chris Riddell and Dave McKean are pitched just right to illustrate the noir setting.

Bod's guardian, Silas, is my favourite character after Bod in the book and is something completely different to what usually lives in the Graveyard. He isn't dead and he isn't alive - a unique mystery all to himself. The murderer of Bod's family, the man Jack, is fantastically creepy and weird and suits the story perfectly.

Neil Gaiman's created a book with bits that everyone will enjoy - there is murder, Hounds of God, Guardians, ghouls, ghosts, a girl called Scarlet, adventure, mayhem, Fading and Haunting, bullies to be taught lessons - in essence, an all round fun and thrilling book to read, no matter what your age or time of year.

This is the link to The Graveyard Book website which links to the two artists' sites including Neil Gaiman's.


Rachel Green said...

I've been listening to him read it -- it's wonderful.

ediFanoB said...

Hi Liz, good review.

I took a look at the mentioned link and I have been surprised because there is a children's edition and an adult edition.

Do you know the difference? Only graphics or also text?

Adele said...

I really have to get this, I love Gaiman.

Liz said...

The adult edition is exactly the same as the children's edition - text wise. The graphics I think are different - there are two artists who worked on this book - the one I have is illustrated by Chris Riddell. The other one is illustrated by Dave McKean.

Karen Mahoney said...

Great review!! I want it even more now. :)

Can't wait to see The Man Himself...