Yesterday, I finally read The Graveyard Book. I stayed up until 2 am to read it (which was okay since I got an hour back in the morning). I just had to finish right away. I sat on my couch crying my eyes out by the time I had finished it. It is so sad and dark and warm and wonderful all at once. In short, The Graveyard Book was everything everyone promised it would be, and more. Part of me wishes I had read it earlier, as I’ve postponed reading this again and again, last time a few weeks ago when I should have read it for We Be Reading’s read along, and yet.. part of me wishes I still had this on my TBR pile. To come to it afresh, and experience its beauty again.
The Graveyard Book starts with a dark scene:
“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.”
The reader soon learns that the thing the knife was brought to do was to kill a family. And the one thing still left to accomplish was the killing of one of the two children of the family. However, that child, a toddler still, manages to escape. The little boy runs into the local graveyard and there he finds protection and a place to live among the ghosts of the deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Owens will act as his parents and Silas as his guardian. The boy himself is called Nobody Owens, know to all as Bod. Throughout the book you watch Bod grow up on the margin of society, interacting with and being taught by the ghosts surrounding him, while he discovers several things about the world of the non-living. Meanwhile, Silas tries to keep Bod save from the dangers in the world of the living, for the man Jack, who once killed his family, is still out there looking for Bod.
I cannot quite articulate why I loved this book so much without giving everything away, but I will try. For one, I loved how the first part that focuses on childhood adventures ties in with the second part of the book which focuses more on a showdown. Second, I loved how as a reader you notice how carefully crafted this story is, perfectly thought out, beautifully written, with challenging concepts and questions thrown in while still having a comfortable flow. But most of all I loved how darkness and warmth were combined. How the story constantly evokes small life lessons without forcing them on the reader. How Bod finds friends among the deceased and is yet encouraged to embrace his life as one of the living. How friendship, and love, and the final letting go are integral parts of Bod’s childhood and his coming of age. And how Neil Gaiman is so confident in combining all of these elements in a book for children, without talking down to them, without making it too complicated, and yet without taking away from the ambiguous and challenging qualities of life.
Colour me very very impressed.
Other Opinions: Things Mean a Lot, Beauty is a Sleeping Cat, Rebecca Reads, Fyrefly’s Book Blog, Bart’s Bookshelf, Rob Around Books, The Sleepless Reader, Savidge Reads, Maw Books Blog, Steph & Tony Investigate!, Jenny’s Books, Stella Matutina, My Favourite Books, You’ve GOTTA Read This, In Spring It is the Dawn, Fleur Fisher, Always Cooking Up Something, among others..
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