Book Review – The Graveyard Book

I have been gradually working my way through some of Neil Gaiman’s books, having previously read some of The Sandman, American Gods, and Neverwhere (review here). Next up on my list was The Graveyard Book.

This book is classified as a middle grade novel, but it never felt like something purely intended for children. The Graveyard Book won the Newberry Medal, the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book.

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Here is the blurb:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.

But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

A deliciously dark masterwork by bestselling author Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by award-winning Dave McKean.


I enjoyed this book and found it to be a quick read. The illustrations by Dave McKean added to the imagery and mood of the story. Apparently this novel was inspired by The Jungle Book, and many of the scenes parallel the events of Kipling’s work.

The story starts out with a frightening scene in the aftermath of the murder of Bod’s entire family. This sounds like a dark opening for a middle grade book, but it is never graphic. Once Bod is adopted by the ghosts of the local graveyard and his vampire guardian, Silas, the menace fades from his day-to-day life until later in the book.

Bod still encounters dangers, but also friends. Each section of the book jumps ahead a couple of years in time, so we see Bod grow up and explore further afield, finding trouble in a variety of places. Finally, the story moves back to the murder of his family and brings it all together for the conclusion. I thought that the ending of this book was bittersweet, but since this is also a coming of age tale, it was also appropriate to that theme.

Have you read The Graveyard Book or other novels by Neil Gaiman? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

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