The Graveyard Book

What I love about Neil Gaiman is that the books of his I have read, Coraline and The Graveyard Book, seem to be books for children or young adults but actually have much darker and more complex elements than most books for young people. You may know what I’m talking about if you have seen the movie version of Coraline.  Not exactly kid’s stuff.

Same with The Graveyard Book. A boy’s family is murdered when he is just a baby but the boy manages to escape and crawls away to a graveyard.  He is received by ghosts who name him Nobody or “Bod” for short.  The ghosts decide they will raise him and keep him in the graveyard, safe from the man Jack who killed his family.  Two ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens become his parents while a man called Silas becomes his guardian.  Bod is given the “Freedom of the Graveyard” and learns such skills as Fading, Dreamwalking, and Sliding.  He also learns about different varieties of the dead, such as Hounds of God, ghouls, and night gaunts.  However, he can’t stay in the graveyard forever and eventually must leave his beloved ghosts and join the world of the living.  This book was a lovely read, both enchanting and exciting.

It was also interesting to read about the graveyard in this book because it reminded me of another cemetery I had read about in Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  As it turns out, both books are based around Highgate cemetery in London.  Niffenegger sometimes gives tours of Highgate and as it turns out had shown Neil Gaiman around this cemetery.  In his acknowledgements in the back of the book, he says:

“Artist and author Audrey Niffenegger is also a graveyard guide, and she showed me around the ivy-covered marvel that is Highgate Cemetery West.  A lot of what she told me crept into Chapters Six and Seven.”

To me this was intriguing; to recognize this place in both books.  And I had no idea these authors even knew each other! It was a very serendipitous realization.

As an aside: I love the definition of serendipity.  It has been named one of the top ten words that is hardest to describe in the English language.   Wikipedia calls serendipity : “The property of making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated” while Dictionary.com defines serendipity as: “An aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.” This has been a pretty accurate description of my life this winter.

And another post script:  I also loved The Graveyard Book because I absolutely adore cemeteries and find them very peaceful.  I love to go to a cemetery on a nice day and read a book.  My friends always tease me because I take pretty much all of my new love interests to the cemetery. Some might find it creepy but I think it’s romantic…

And finally a post post script: One of my favorite quotes about books comes from The Graveyard Book.

“He imagined a future in which he could read everything, in which all stories could be opened and discovered.”

I imagine that future too. : )

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4 Comments

  1. sarahism said,

    February 20, 2011 at 3:36 am

    I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, but my copy is sadly boxed up, along with American Gods. Gaiman is one of my favorites, however. I love the worlds he creates and highly recommend Neverwhere (which is also a mini-series he wrote) and Stardust.

  2. Dylan said,

    February 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

    This book was such a magical wonderful read. The story of “Bod” stuck with me long after my reading of it, and I love the second illustration you included in your blog. The drawing could almost be you, reading in the cemetery, awakened by the world and its charms.

  3. February 26, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Haha yes, I think it could!


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