Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman

Bod -- short for Nobody -- has been orphaned early, by a murderer known only as “the man Jack” who had killed his entire family and is still on the hunt for him. Not until late in the book does he learn why.

In the meantime he is rescued by a community of ghosts in the graveyard on the hill of a small but ancient town. There, he is cared for by the kindly ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens, tutored by other ghosts and mentored by the only graveyard inhabitant who can leave the cemetery for food and other things a living child might need: Silas, a vampire. Between his toddler years and his late teens, Bod has many adventures.

Sound familiar? It should. In fact, in an afterword to The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins), author Neil Gaiman admits he was thinking of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, although Gaiman’s tale also has a strong flavour of Ray Bradbury, if you can imagine that most American of writers as British.

The Graveyard Book is more or less a series of connected short stories; in fact, Chapter four, “The Witch’s Headstone,” was first published as a short story.

It works, in any case. Like all of Neil Gaiman’s works, this one is very readable, with the elements of good story and good characters. Despite its gruesome background, this novel is gentle, quite suitable for children to read.

Chris Riddell’s beautiful cartoon-like illustrations go perfectly with the text.

Highly recommended.

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Blogger Matjaž said...

Illustrations in the book are from Dave McKean not Chris Riddell as mentioned in the review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 1:48:00 AM PST  

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