The Graveyard Book
One dark night, our man Jack murders a family of three, but the baby boy escapes. The toddler funds his way to a small and mostly abandoned graveyard where he is taken in by a community of spirits who promise to protect him. Named Nobody Owens– Bod for short– the boy grows into a young man, learning at the laps of scholars, poets, and spinsters long dead. Raised by the childless Owenses and cared for by the entire population of the cemetery, Bod is given the Freedom of the Graveyard, allowing him access and powers unlike a normal child. His guardian, the mysterious Silas, brings him food and books and other necessities from the outside world. Locked within the safety of the graveyard, Bod is safe, but the lure of the outside world calls to him as he grows older. His adventures within and beyond the gates of the graveyard bring him to the attention of a strange and ancient brotherhood and bring Bod closer to his spirit family and his past.
Gaiman’s tale is full of astoundingly rich characters who add depth to the plot as well as texture and humor. The sweet and matronly Mrs. Owens acts as a pleasant counterpart to Elizabeth Hemstock, a somewhat dark yet caring witch buried in an unmarked grave in Potter’s Field. Even the variety of Jacks are entertaining and distinct. By far, however, the best characters are Bod and Scarlett, two young children trying to find their way in a changing world. Their friendship is full of tender moments and heartbreaking truths. Despite the obviously fantasy feel of the novel, the characters feel very real and the underlying issues Bod faces are timeless.
Gaiman’s novel is enthralling from beginning to end and the ending is full of promise and joy. Readers young and old will delight in this novel.