Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Content Alert: On the scary side
When I had the chance to read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, I picked it up eagerly, since I’d heard great things about Gaiman as an author, but never taken the chance to read one of his novels. He narrates the audiobook, and his voice is one of the best things about the recording. The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody (Bod) Owens, who toddled out of his house in the middle of the night when a murderer was killing the rest of the family. The baby wandered into the graveyard up the hill, where the members of the graveyard (mostly ghosts, with a witch, a hellhound and a vampire thrown in for good measure) took on the task of raising him to adulthood while protecting him from the murderer, who needed to finish the job.
As I listened to the book, I was struck by the way that Gaiman employed Chekov’s idea of “the gun on the wall” in which parts of the story that seem extraneous should eventually work toward advancing the plot or else be cut. For five or six chapters, seemingly random things happen to Bod as he grows up in the graveyard, and I was impressed with the way that Gaiman worked together the disparate events in the concluding chapters. It was a really interesting read. It’s funny though, the book is marketed for 9-12 year olds, and I have two kids who read in that age group, and I think that The Graveyard Book would scare the pants off them. It scared me. Maybe the audio recording is more dramatic and scarier than reading the text, but I’m not sure that I’d recommend it for my kids right now, not unless I want them sleeping in my bed with me for the next few months.