Saturday, March 20, 2010
CBR Book#36: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I've been afraid to read anything by Neil Gaiman. It seems that those familiar with his work absolutely adore him and his stories. Gaiman has also won numerous awards, including the Bram Stoker Award, a Newberry Medal, and Hugo Award. He's very intimidating and I feared that I wouldn't enjoy his writing or wouldn't get it, whatever 'it' is to get. I encountered my first glimpse of Gaiman in the short story collection The Living Dead and I quite liked it. But was I ready for an entire novel by Gaiman? When the Pajiba Book Club choice came down from Mount Scathing, it was The Graveyard Book by Mr. Gaiman. I decided to suck it up, read the book, and participate in its discussion. I'm glad I did.
A small child's parents and sister are murdered. By luck or by fate, the one year old child is able to leave his house and toddle to the nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard, especially Mrs. Owens, are taken with the boy and by the appearance of his mother's ghost imploring that he be kept safe. The child is named Nobody Owens and the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens vow to raise him in the graveyard. He is also watched over by Silas, who resides in the graveyard at times and is the only one able to leave it and get food for the growing boy. Gaiman takes us to different points in Bod's, short for Nobody, life. He has adventures in the graveyard, attempts attending school, tries to buy a headstone for a witch, and learns what happened to his parents.
Gaiman writes beautifully. I was surprised at first to see that this was a novel aimed at children. I was concerned that it would talk down or be too simple. This is not the case. I fully intend to introduce my daughter to this novel when the time is right. I also hope to read more of Gaiman's work, whether it be during this cycle of the CBR or the next (I so hope there is a next!).