I love The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. So much can be said about this book, and so many areas can be explored. The very first time I came in contact with the book was in a creative writing class, where my professor used it as an example of messing with setting—and boy does it! From the very first lines, where we read about the knife and the man holding it, we realize that this home (which is normally a safe place) is anything but safe. The quiet suburban house has been infiltrated by the evil outside, evidenced by the fact that the door is left open. Not many pages after, Gaiman turns a creepy old graveyard into a safe haven. Ghosts become more loving and kind than the living people.
Beyond the setting, Gaiman also manages to produce a coherent plot out of something that originally feels like a slice-of-life narrative. Every small story from Bod’s childhood becomes important at the climax. When Bod and Scarlett first entered the chamber of the Sleer, I knew that it would be important in the end, yet I didn’t know how. The Ghoul gate, learning how to Fade properly, so many things played a part. Yet each chapter could have almost been its own separate story.
For most of the book, we, like Bod, are in the dark as to many things—like why did the man Jack try to kill Bod in the first place? We eventually get an answer, but there are many things that Gaiman doesn’t fully explain. Yes, Mrs. Lupescu is a werewolf, but what does that mean in this world? What is Silas? He doesn’t delve into much detail. This could be frustrating, except that it simply puts us and Bod on the same page. We know little more than he does, and he knows no more than us.
Many writers have the urge to put everything on the page, to tell everything they know about everything. But Gaiman didn’t do that. He gives his readers credit.
The Graveyard Book twists setting, has paced revelations, and makes us feel like we’re right there with Bod. It’s fun and different. Read it!