Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their timely ghostly teachings-like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other.
I don’t know if this is a common experience or maybe just me, but… I hadn’t read any Neil Gaiman before this. I had heard a lot about American Gods (bought my brother a beautiful edition which he never read) and watched Good Omens (an incredible show to say the least) but I’ve never read one of his books. This one was actually on my to-read list for a very long time, and it finally made it’s way to my currently reading pile on a really long flight to the West coast. And boy oh boy… what a great decision.
I know that this is a children’s book, but I really loved it (even cried a little bit at the ending). I thought that each and every character was super interesting, be it the other ghosts or his various guardians or Silas. The way that the entire graveyard really pitched into raising Bod was super heart warming, and all of his interactions with the ghosts were lovely. Like I said I found the ending very emotional. I think there’s something about coming of age novels that really makes me emotional, and this one was no exception. Even though I’m basically already grown up, there’s a fear of the unknown that I think everyone faces from time to time. Whether it’s a change of environment or friend group, or moving to a new place, we’ve all had anxieties about whether or not we’ll rise to the occasion. The ending of the Graveyard Book was so touching in that it’s kind of left open – we don’t know if Bod does perfectly well in the world, but we know that he has the tools to do so. And so long as we believe (in Bod and in ourselves) it will turn out okay.
I also was lucky enough to have bought the edition with a) a lot of illustrations and b) a copy of Gaiman’s acceptance speech for one of the various awards that the book won. The illustrations in the book bring it to a whole other level. The stories themselves are already quiet creepy, but by giving a face to some of the creatures that Gaiman imagines the situations that Bod gets into become much more real. It really brought the book to life in a special way, and as I’ve said before in other reviews, I’m a sucker for illustrations. They make the book so memorable, and I think they were perfectly done in this novel. And Gaiman’s speech also left such a good feeling in my heart when I finished the book. He talks about how he waited for years before actually writing the book because he thought that he wasn’t a good enough writer, and it honestly still surprises me that people who are so accomplished went through phases of low self-esteem. I think we all have a tendency to put our favourite authors up on a pedestal and think that they were always as good as they are, but they all started somewhere. Gaiman is super supportive of working towards your potential and not giving up on projects (even if it takes years of work to make them happen) and it was such a nice note to end the book on.
Overall, I loved this book (definitely not just for kids), and I will definitely be checking out more of Gaiman’s writing. 5/5 for sure!
That’s all for now ducks, and I’ll see you soon with more reviews 🙂