Sunday, 2 March 2014

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
Kindle Version

 I wasn't sure what to expect from The Graveyard Book. While I love Gaimen's work the fact this was a children's book (and make no mistake this is very much a children's book) had me wondering what this was going to be like. While it seemed odd at first, with a very serial style to it I was not disappointed. This is usual Gaimen dark and twisted, but done with kids in mind. In fact this may be the perfect book to introduce younger readers to Gaimen's works and I know had I read this at 10 - 12 I would have been absolutely in love with it.

Opening with a murder this is not a story for kids with a super sensitive nature. The antagonist, Jack, a scary and menacing man, murders a family in their beds, but with one exception. The toddler somehow escapes the house and makes his way to a nearby graveyard, where the spirits of those interred decide to protect him. With the assistance of Silas, a corporeal but no less supernatural being, Jack is soon on his way and the child made safe. But to ensure he continues to survive they decide to give him the freedom of the graveyard and bring him up themselves.

The rest of the book is made up of chapters that act as individual stories in and of themselves, charting the adventures of Nobody "Bod" Owens as he grows up amongst the dead. The stop start nature of The Graveyard Book can be a bit irritating at times, more so for an older reader, but isn't really that different to other children's fantasy stories, where serialised adventures are the norm. Bod seems a little too smart at times for someone of his age but it's a minor complaint in a book that overall has a lovely feel to it, and is an easy read. The ending may be a bit of a disappointment to some (personally I want to know what happens next) but is the inevitable conclusion to this spooky David Copperfield style tale.

 If you liked Coraline, or any story that's a bit odd/weird than I would recommend giving The Graveyard Book a go. It's not very long, well written and is a joy at times, with some marvellous characters you wish you could spend more time with. I also loved that Gaimen didn't just spell out who or what everyone was from the outset; it builds up until the end when you realise that the adventures you've been reading are pieces of a larger picture. What I would have given to have read this when I was a kid. But then I was always a little odd.

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