The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

A killer is loose he has claimed three victims from one family but one escapes. He lives to fight another day. But there is something unique about this escapee.

He is a baby.

He does not know his name.

He finds shelter in a graveyard.

The ghosts who live in the graveyard, claim him and name him as No’bod’y.

Bod becomes one of them whilst still alive. He has a guardian, Silas and parents Mr and Mrs Owens, teachers throughout the cemetery who educate him on all scholarly and ghostly matters.

But the man who killed his REAL family still needs to complete his mission and that is to kill the one who got away. Can Bod survive to live another day or will the ghostly world in which he inhabits finally shut him out forever?

This fantasy book is predominantly aimed at children aged 9 – 12 and I think perhaps less advanced readers would struggle with it, vocabulary wise but would certainly enjoy the pace of the story. There are parts of the book where the plot was certainly lost on me and it had very resonant elements of the Harry Potter series, which could be a double edged sword. Youngsters might find it good to progress to such a fantasy book as this whilst others might find it is a disappoint without much reasoned explanation for why Bod’s family are killed.

The latter being what I found as I thought at one point I had missed a huge chunk of the book out as to why Bod needed to be killed. However I think perhaps with adult eyes we look for more reasoned explanations whilst as children we would simply go with the flow.

Each chapter is a story within itself and they are all page turners and it was an enjoyable read with the right amount of fantasy, reality and enough creepiness without feeling too scared to read on. A book for all to enjoy.

I bought this book because it was on offer as a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p. When I bought it I did not realise it was a children’s book and it was only with further investigation did I find out. That is the sign of a good story, some books are so obvious as children’s books that as an adult you make preconceived ideas about them. Here I did not. 

I was also drawn to the ‘graveyard’ elements of the book. All that history there and past that was taken after lives had been lived and some where they had not lived at all. They all going on living in the graveyard. It dealt I thought rather touchingly (for children) with those who are buried away from the graveyard, witches, suicides those where no stone marks the spot of their burial.

I can hear my family history running through my head, as I have spent a few hours wondering round graveyards trying to find those places where relatives of the distant past have been buried and for what I only have names and data on, nothing actual, no photographs; nothing. 

I would be interested in anyone else who has read this book, but also what children think about it? The reviews on Amazon that I can glean all come from adults. 

4 thoughts on “The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

  1. I love this book. I have also read it to my class of year 5 children (age 9-10) and it’s probably the one book I’ve read this year that they have enjoyed the most. They liked the horror elements, and guessing what creature Silas was before it was told (it seems very obvious to us, but not to them) and trying to work out why Bod was going to be killed. We did some great writing pieces using the worlds Gaiman created.

    The format also works really well for children and reading aloud – each chapter is like a short story.

  2. Well, I’m a 58 year old grandma and I absolutely *loved* this one. I don’t always care for Neil Gaiman’s books but thought this one was magical.

  3. I think I’ll have to read something by Neil Gaiman soon before I’m the only person left who hasn’t! This sounds like it might be a good one to start with.

  4. The only Gaiman book I have read was Stardust…and I’m afraid I didn’t love it really. But have read quite a few positive reviews about this one so maybe I should give him another go.

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