Warning: Contains spoilers from The Graveyard Book!
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, will have you reading late into the night. With it’s intense story line and mystical characters who slowly reveal their true selves.
Bod, short for Nobody Owens, an infant boy that inadvertently escapes being killed, by crawling into the graveyard at the top of the hill, where he is quickly adopted by the deceased.
Silas, a very tall, reserved man who has been given freedom of the graveyard vows that he will act as guardian of the boy, Nobody Owens, and obtain for him the necessary supplies that the dead can not provide. Also promising, that if he were to need to leave the graveyard for a prolonged period of time, that he would provide a replacement who would be there to care for Nobody.
When Silas leaves, he entrusts the care of young master Owens to Miss Lupescu. Who, with her grey hair and disapproving frown, enforces her rule upon Nobody.
Although branded a witch, killed, and buried in Potter’s Field without a headstone, Liza Hempstock is a kind young woman. Nobody’s first impression of Liza, in her plain white shift, with her long mousy hair and lopsided smile, is that she has a look similar to a goblin.
Wearing a long grey skirt and shawl which look as if they were made of cobwebs, the Lady on the Grey appears and tells the people of the graveyard that they should except and care for the infant boy, Nobody Owens.
When it is foreseen by a Jack of All Trades that a boy will be born that will walk the line between the living and the dead, who will demolish the Jacks of All Trades, they decide that he must be killed. The man Jack kills the boys family, yet loses the boy, a toddler at the time, when he escapes into the graveyard at the top of the hill and is adopted by the deceased Mr. and Mrs. Owens and given the Freedom of the graveyard. Since the Owenses’ are dead and cannot leave the graveyard, Silas assumes the role of Bods guardian. Bringing him food and cloths and a few books.
When Silas leaves for the first time, Miss Lupescu comes to take his place. Bod is very upset that he has to stay in the graveyard with Miss Lupescu and cannot go with Silas out into the real world. As a result of his anger and desire to leave the graveyard, Nobody Owens is easily tricked into going to Ghulheim with three Ghouls who want to make him a Ghoul like them. Miss Lupescu is told by some Night-Guants that Bod has been captured and sets off after Bod to save him from this terrible fate. Luckily for Bod, Miss Lupescu is a Hound of God. After his rescue Bod and Miss Lupescu form a close bond that lasts even after Silas returns.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Nobody Owens sets out to get a headstone for Liza Hempstock, who he befriends after the tree branch he is sitting on snaps and he falls into the compost pile on the Potter’s Field side of the fence. Liza assesses the condition of his injured leg and they talk about what happened to her. While attempting to sell a brooch he’d found concealed in the graveyard to get the money necessary to buy the grave marker for Liza, Bod is held captive by a greedy pawnshop owner who wishes to know where he got the old brooch. After Liza helps him escape from the pawn shop, Bod returns the brooch to its rightful owner. But he still manages to make her a headstone by engraving on a glass paperweight he had found . As she wished, he first put “E. H.” then he added “we don’t forget.” Liza really enjoyed her gravestone and was very thankful.
Another part I really enjoyed takes place after Bod is allowed to try attending school. Silas and Bod have a fight about Bod’s actions at school. Bod, having been told to stay just this side of invisible, has made himself a local hero at his school by encouraging the bullied kids in the grade below him to stand-up to their tormentor and refuse to give the bully their pocket money. Now, Bod has left the graveyard and is trying to decide what to do. He finds the house of Nick Farthing, the bully, and dreamwalks into the boys dream, scaring him, so that he wouldn’t bully the kids at school anymore. Unfortunately Mo, Nick Farthings sidekick, calls the cops and reports that Nobody was out breaking stuff in her backyard. On the way back to the police station, Silas tries to stop the car but ends up getting hit. Bod, seeing it was Silas, comes up with a story about how he thinks that it is his dad and gets one of the officers to let him out of the car. Silas and Bod escape when the cops back’s are turned.
Throughout the whole book there is only one part I didn’t like. That was when the author, Neil Gaiman, killed Miss Lupescu in a battle with the Jacks of All Trades. The Honor Guard in which she and Silas were a part of were trying to destroy the Jacks and protect Bod.
I would have to give this book a four-star review due to the mildly confusing story line that at some points is hard to follow. Other than that it was a great book and I would highly recommend it to any young reader who likes action, adventure, and a very small amount of suspenseful horror.