With a blurb by Diana Wynne Jones on the front stating “The best book Neil Gaiman has ever written,” I may have started reading The Graveyard Book with high expectations because that is high praise from a very talented author. I must admit the association did make me think of this book as the most Diana-Wynne-Jones-like book that Neil Gaiman has written if that makes any sense. I hope it does and that alone I think is praise in itself.
Though this wasn’t my favorite Neil Gaiman book, it is a solid story that I think likely resonates well with many younger readers while older readers probably understand more of the vague references to supernatural elements.
This book is the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens. He is a boy who is raised in a graveyard. The circumstances of his situation are rather dark and the opening of the book does well to avoid any gruesome details, but Bod is a toddler when is family is killed by a man named Jack. What follows is Bod’s story among the residents of the graveyard and occasional lessons with the living. His experience is unique and the lessons he learns are lessons for us all.
The mystery behind Bod’s guardian, Silas, as well as the man named Jack present a unique knowledge of the world as it once was and what it could become. It is an ancient knowledge that remains hidden from the living world yet remains tied to it. There is definitely a larger story happening beyond Bod’s point of view.
I actually bought this book in a collection alongside Coraline and Fortunately, The Milk with all three illustrated by Chris Riddell. This was the last of the collection I read but I enjoyed all of them. I will likely read this book to my own children when they are a bit older.