Book review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

5/5 stars.

Audible version, narrated by Neil Gaiman.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention (this is the disadvantage of reviewing books weeks after the fact) that each chapter is introduced with a bit of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Dance Macabre, which is a wonderful piece of music and really helps set the tone of the story.

It took me a little while to get used to the narration as I first felt like Gaiman’s accent was all over the place (regardless of the character currently speaking), but after a while either he or I settled down, and he does have a nice voice.

This is a really well-crafted story of wonder. A toddler escapes a nefarious killer who has just murdered the rest of his family. The baby wanders into the graveyard and after a desperate entreaty from the spirit of his dead mother, earns the protection of the beings that live in the graveyard. Nobody “Bod” Owens grows up here, between ghosts and other incredible creatures, meanwhile his family’s killer is still searching for him, to complete the job.

Ghouls, witches, vampires, hounds of God, ancient tombs and a mysterious underground organisation of “Jacks” await you in this adventure, which is in turn funny, thrilling, eerie and heart-warming.

Gaiman once again shows what a fantastic storyteller he is. I felt like I was there in the graveyard with Bod, and alongside him for all his adventures. I was legitimately terrified by some of the scary bits, more so than I’ve been by most “adult” thrillers – and found myself talking aloud to the audibook (“No, Bod, don’t do it, don’t go there!”).

While this definitely works as a children’s book, I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult. Admittedly I have a very vivid imagination, but Gaiman is also just a really good writer who cannot fail to drag you along.

I also feel like attention was paid to the universe as a whole  – everything made sense, and the plot had a satisfying and bittersweet conclusion. Would recommend for anyone who enjoys a good story of the supernatural and macabre, with both loveable and creepy characters.

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