A mysterious man strides through a darkened house in the middle of the night. He has already disposed of the most of the family members, and is searching for the youngest child, a young boy barely old enough to walk. Unbeknownst to him, he has left the front door open, and the toddler has taken himself out to explore.
The assassin tracks the boy to a nearby graveyard, but is waylaid by a man who he takes to be the caretaker and is forced to abandon his search. Meanwhile, the ghosts of the people buried in the graveyard, realising the boy is in danger, agree to adopt him. Mr and Mrs Owens are named the boy’s new parents, and they call him ‘Nobody’ (‘Bod’ for short). The ghosts cannot leave the graveyard to provide food and clothing for ‘Bod’, so Silas (a mysterious man who lives in the graveyard’s chapel and transcends the borders between the living and the dead) agrees to be Bod’s ‘guardian’.
The rest of the novel follows Bod’s adventures growing up in the graveyard. Granted ‘the freedom of the graveyard’, he is able to perform many ghostly maneuvers such as fading into invisibility, walking through solid walls and entering the dreams of others. Unfortunately these useful tricks only work within the confines of the graveyard. Whenever he leaves the graveyard, trouble always follows.
I’d be lying if I said I never read ‘children’s’ books – in fact I have a whole shelf of childhood favourites (and children’s books I’ve met in later life) that I still revisit from time to time. I chose to read The Graveyard Book because I’ve been on a real Neil Gaiman kick lately, not realising that it WAS a children’s book. There are many children’s (and young adult) books that have something for everyone, that everyone can enjoy. The Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games for example. I’m not sure The Graveyard Book falls into that category. While Gaiman maintains his usual quirkiness, and the story and characters are compelling, I didn’t enjoy The Graveyard Book in the same way I’ve enjoyed some of Gaiman’s other works. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it…but when I was reading it I was very aware that the book was aimed at children…