The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

For all I love words, spelling, grammar and the like (hey, I even have a blog about it, did you notice?), I’ve been terribly lazy with reading. I’ve mentioned reading a few books in this blog and they’re pretty much always associated with holidays. Though I note that I didn’t write about the books I read while in Thailand and I did  read some, though for the life of me I can’t remember what they were. What that says about the books and/or my memory I don’t know.

I thought I’d further use this blog to include some mini reviews and commentaries on books/films/shows that I’ve seen. The link to spelling and grammar is fragile – but they’re all forms of writing and use language, speech and words for different purposes. To be fair, with my track record, the regularity of this feature might be June and September (traditionally when I take holidays) so you might not be overloaded!

But to kick off (and I’m aware that this isn’t June or September but it was mostly read on a mini break to York), I’ve just read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

I was drawn into reading this book partly because of his links with Terry Pratchett, but also because I’d recently (well within the last two years) been reading some ‘young’ fiction like Skellig by David Almond and His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. Young fiction when done well can be great. Better than great. I’d go so far as to say The Graveyard Book is up there with the best.

It is a delightful story. The tale of Nobody Owens (Bod) raised by ghosts, taught by ghosts and living in a graveyard because the outside world is, well, scarier and more dangerous than in the cemetery. There are witches, ghouls, the undead and the dead, oh and some living people too. It’s wonderful escapism.

I think I was especially taken with it because it was about a graveyard.  Some of the descriptions were inspired by Highgate in London. Add into the mix that I was reading it on Spooksfest weekend in York and I was bound to like it!

There are two versions – each illustrated differently. My version was illustrated by Dave McKean and I loved the opening spread. To be fair, many of the other illustrations lack the impact of this one and that’s a real shame.
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
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