One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls. Wander any graveyard long enough and you will find it — waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds around it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment. It may be colder than the other gravestones, too, and the name is all too often impossible to read. If there is a statue on the grave it will be headless or so scabbed with fungus and lichens as to look like a fungus itself. If one grave in a graveyard looks like a target for petty vandals, that is the ghoul-gate. If the grave makes you want to be somewhere else, that is the ghoul-gate.
There was one in Bod’s graveyard.
There is one in every graveyard.
[From page 61 of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman]
Copyright 2008, HarperCollins
307 pages, fantasy
Nobody Owens (Bod for short), may appear to be a perfectly average boy, but he has lived in an abandoned graveyard for as long as he can remember, looked after and educated by ghosts and other beings of the dead. He soon gets a thirst for adventure and wants to leave the graveyard, though if he does, he will be in great danger — in danger of the same force that killed his former family.
The Graveyard Book chronicles Bod’s adventures in a way that seems nearly like a collection of short stories, each chapter a new story, in a way. Neil Gaiman is a master of suspense, and his dark humor weaves through every chapter. This book really sets the mood for Halloween, with plenty of ghosts and ghouls and such. The story itself left me hypnotized, and the day after I finished the book I found myself wandering the local cemetery in search of the “ghoul-gate”. Say I have an overreactive imagination, but I believe I found it.
The book was stuffed full of illustrations by Dave McKean, and while McKean did a good job at capturing the essence of Gaiman’s writing, the constant pictures interrupting text annoyed me. I prefer to imagine things myself. Also, the involvement of the mundane, just as the book gets rolling, was a bit discouraging to me, as I was hoping for a totally phantasmagoric, Edgar Allan Poe-esque tale. Overall, a really good story, worthy of the Newbery award it received.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Visit Neil Gaiman’s website at http://www.mousecircus.com .