The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, Illustrations by Chris Riddell, Bloomsbury, 2008, 289 pages.

For a Halloween review this one won’t be scary, sorry to disappoint, however The Graveyard Book is amazing.

After his family are murdered, a toddler is taken in by a group of ghosts and raised in a graveyard. The book is Nobody Owen’s (Bod for short) life growing up amongst the tombstones, the adventures he has an the friends he makes. The Graveyard Book has a full cast of interesting, funny and dedicated characters determined to keep a child safe.

There are so many things I want to talk about when it comes to The Graveyard Book, I loved the plot, the characters and the illustrations; not to mention Gaiman’s writing.

Whenever I read a Neil Gaiman book, I am always struck by his turn of phrase

 “Instead he walked up the side of the hill  where a picnic some thirty years before left its mark in the shape of a large apple tree.”

I read that and wished I’d written it and I suspect a great deal of writers who read the book felt the same. The way Gaiman writes is elegant in a way that matches the eerie theme of ghosts, it reminds me of the way Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas is both eerie and elegant. At the same time though, the sophistication of Gaiman’s writing does not exclude a younger readership.

Every chapter of the book is like a snapshot of Bod’s life in the graveyard. The book begins with Bod as a toddler and by the end he is a young man. Inbetween the reader gets to meet Bod’s adopted parents Mr and Mrs Owens, his friends who include a witch and a human and his guardian Silas who is himself the embodiment of mystery.

The book also posts an idea of the afterlife being in the place where ones bones are buried. People reside in the afterlife where the body lie, this is not a new idea, but what makes this idea special is the sense of community in the graveyard, like its own little village; Silas even comments that it would take the graveyard to raise the child.

I give this book five out of five stars. It is one of my favourite books, it is different, quirky, the characters are fun and heartwarming and the whole plot of the book is so clever, at no point does the book feel overdone or clichéd, it all comes together seamlessly.

The book is suitable for most readers both adults and children, but parents should be aware of the murder scene at the beginning of the book, though it is not too graphic.

What are you reading this Halloween? Leave a comment below.

Happy Halloween


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