The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Bod, although named Nobody Owens, isn’t a nobody. Someone wants him dead. The Man Jack killed his parents and sister one dark night. Bod was just a toddler and narrowly escaped The Man Jack’s knife when he wandered off into the cemetery just across the way from his parent’s home. It was highly unprecedented, but Mr. and Mrs. Owens, both ghosts who have already lived in the graveyard for many years, agree to adopt Bod when the ghost of his mother begs Mrs. Owens to care for him. The graveyard as a whole did not agree to accept Bod and give him the freedom of the graveyard only after Silas also agrees to be his guardian. Silas, unlike the ghosts inhabiting the cemetery, has access to the world outside of the graveyard and can ensure that Bod is fed and educated. Thus begins Bod’s unconventional upbringing. Despite the circumstances, Bod is a typical boy and that often gets him into trouble. It is just that which teaches him what he needs to know to survive within and without the walls of the graveyard.
I had intended to read Neverwhere as my first Neil Gaiman novel, but when I found myself with a credit at Audible.com and noticed that the author himself narrated The Graveyard Book, I had to buy it. Once it was on my MP3 player, I couldn’t stop myself from listening to it. I couldn’t be more thrilled that book was my introduction. It was alive in place and character. I loved Bod, Silas, Mrs. Owens, Scarlett, and Liza. I even enjoyed the less savory characters Bod meets along the way. One of my favorite chapters was when he meets up with the ghouls. I loved the imagination that went into creating their existence, their means of transportation, and their names: The Duke of Westminster, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Lord High Mayor of London, and The 33rd President of the United States (poor President Truman – I had to look that up because I had to know). The dialog was equally delightful – not just with the ghouls, but with all of the characters. While I’m sure that the dialog would have stood out if I had read the print version of this book, Gaiman is fantastic in his narration and really brought out the interplay and poetry in his prose.
I cannot say enough about this book. I listened to it on audio as narrated by Neil Gaiman himself. I listened to Bod’s story on my way to and from work and whenever I got a chance in between. I was enthralled by the different worlds I got to explore along with Bod. It really captured my imagination. I looked forward to my time in the graveyard and was very impressed by the author’s narration. In many ways, I think that made the experience for me. To hear the accents of the ghouls, the Owens’, Silas, and Scarlett made them all come to life. I have a print version of this novel as well and I found myself going to it to reread what I had heard that day and getting excited all over again. The ending, in so many ways, was bittersweet for me. I miss Bod, all of his friends, and all of the things to see and explore in his adoptive home. I look forward to the day that my daughters are old enough to listen to this story along with me, not that I think I can wait that long to read The Graveyard Book again for myself.
To enter for a chance to win the prizes for this theme month, go to the Neverwhere and Beyond page and use the following code: N&B-R1.
I read the audio version of this book through a purchase on Audible.com.
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