The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Opening Sentence: There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife
What happens when a toddler whose family has just been killed gets adopted by an entire graveyard? Not something that crosses a lot of people’s minds but that doesn’t stop Neil Gaiman from taking a seemingly morbid situation and turning it into an adventure.
“It’s going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will” said Silas, “take a graveyard”
Something about Neil Gaiman’s style of writing makes me feel like Coraline inside. Brings out the adventurous child in me so to speak. While reading this book I was picturing the whole thing in 3D stop motion animated style just like the Coraline movie, and this was before I realized they both had the same author.
It has to be the mark of a great writer to be able to make you feel young again. Read a children’s book and feel like you’re the same age as the protagonist. Gaiman’s writing brings a depth into children’s literature that makes it interesting and engaging to adults.
I especially feel captivated by a story which has sub plots that have the potential to become stories all on their own which I have begun to feel is a Gaiman trademark. In the case of The Graveyard Book I saw potential for such spin offs around almost every corner. Starting with the Jacks of All Trades, the secret brotherhood with a sinister agenda, which is as vague as their humanity.
There was nothing official about the Jacks of All Trades, although there had been Jacks in governments and in police forces and in other places besides.
There is the interesting world under a ghoul gate, a grave which is a portal to another world, which holds the city of Ghulheim and a weird assortment of ghouls which, comically enough, were formerly prominent members of the human world such as presidents and kings and the like.
It was a city that had been built just to be abandoned, in which all the fears and madnesses and revulsions of the creatures who built it were made into stone
I was also intrigued by Silas, Bod’s unhuggable guardian, who was neither living nor dead but with the knowledge and sentiments of both.
He wanted to embrace his guardian, to hold him and tell him that he would never desert him, but the action was unthinkable. He could no more hug Silas than he could hold a moonbeam, not because his guardian was insubstantial, but because it would be wrong. There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.
And finally the feisty little Scarlett Amber Perkins, Bod’s human friend that could have had the potential to be so much more in this story, but could probably do just as well in a story of her own.
She hated this town for being so different-nothing like Glasgow, where she had grown up- and she hated it because every now and again, she would turn a corner and see something and the world would all become achingly, horribly familiar.
There were also many other points of interest such as the Lady on the Grey
They knew her, the graveyard folk, for each of us encounters the Lady on the Grey at the end of our days, and there is no forgetting her .
and the crypt with the Sleer
THIS IS THE PLACE OF THE TREASURE. THIS IS THE PLACE OF POWER. THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE THE SLEER GUARDS AND WAITS FOR ITS MASTER TO RETURN
All of which add enough color to make the story come alive.
A book that revolves around the afterlives of dead people should and did have interesting concepts in it. Starting with the basics when the kid learns his alphabets from the headstones on graves, to when he is able to read the interesting, at times funny, engravings themselves
Miss Letitia Borrows. (Who Did No Harm To No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can You Say LykeWise?)
Miss Liberty Roach (What she spent is lost what she gave remains with her always. Reader be Charitable.)
Not to overlook the interesting bits of wisdom offered by the ghost family in the graveyard that helped Bod go through his strange life as a child who understood the dead more clearly than the living. The most uplifting concept that I found in the book was that it made the concept of death seem less scary and somewhat less intimidating and that could be the biggest appealing factor to children looking for an explanation of life and afterlife.
Bod shrugged. “So?” he said. “It’s only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead.”
“Yes.” Silas hesitated. “They are. And they are, for the most part, done with the world. You are not. You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”
This one is worth reading for people that are even beyond it’s targeted age group if they have still managed to hold on to the child within or want to try once again.
1. You might not have seen a pale, plump woman, who walked the path near the front gates, and if you had seen her, with a second, more careful glance you would have realized that she was only moonlight, mist and shadow. (pg.7)
2. “Does it work? Are they happier dead?”
“Sometimes. Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.” (pg.58)
3. “That’s the difference between the living and the dead ennit?” “The dead dun’t disappoint you. They’ve had their life, done what they done. We dun’t change. The living, they always disappoint you, dun’t they?” (pg.110)
4. “Of all the organs,” said Nehemiah Trot “the tongue is the most remarkable. For we use it both to taste our sweet wine and bitter poison, thus also do we utter words both sweet and sour with the same tongue.” (pg.128)
5. Really, he thought, if you couldn’t trust a poet to offer sensible advice, who could you trust? (pg.129)
View all my reviews