The Graveyard Book: A trick with some treats

By Tatiana Craine

There is only one man who can begin a children’s story with a bloody triple murder and get away with it without having his readers question anything.That man is Neil Gaiman.

Gaiman is a modern Renaissance Man who writes about realms beyond dreams. In his early days, Gaiman worked as a journalist before he started writing fiction. He then raised a family and eventually moved just outside Minneapolis to continue writing. Gaiman has written a plethora of fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and graphic fiction since the mid-’80s. In addition to books and graphic novels, he has written graphic novels, written scripts for several movies, voiced audiobooks, directed a short film, and maintains a daily blog for his fans on his website.

Gaiman’s newest novel, “The Graveyard Book,” has been first on the New York Times Best Seller List for Children’s Books since its release on Sept. 30. The book is inspired by the time Gaiman spent in England with his son, Michael, who rode a tricycle in the graveyard near their old, stair-filled home. Gaiman was struck by how comfortable his son looked between crumbling headstones and knew he had a story. At a recent reading, the author divulged that being a semi-inexperienced writer in his mid-twenties with this concept for a book made him realize, “This idea is better than I am a writer.” Later on, he tried a few more pages of “The Graveyard Book” before putting the pen back down to hone his craft some more. A few years ago, he told himself, “I’m just not getting any better – for good or ill.” And thus, “The Graveyard Book” was born.

The novel follows Nobody Owens throughout a childhood unlike any other. Nobody, “Bod” for short, lives the first 16 years of his life in a graveyard, raised by ghosts and a mysterious guardian while trying to evade the man who killed his family. “The Graveyard Book” is akin to Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” in an English cemetery injected with a heavy dose of macabre and the supernatural, but with a little more heart thanks to Gaiman. The novel is extremely accessible for all, brimming with plenty of adventure, a little romance, a bounty of magic and mysticism, and a drop of philosophy.

In “The Graveyard Book,” Gaiman spins a tale as intricate as a spider’s web, where all the pieces come together in the end, and each bit is as important as the next in weaving the story into a beautiful masterpiece. A healthy sprinkling of ghouls, ghosts, witches, and werewolves make Gaiman’s latest work a perfect pre-Halloween read. “The Graveyard Book” has more than a few tricks up its sleeve, and leaves readers with a treat they can savor again and again.