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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Neil Gaiman, Dave Mckean (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,9621070181 (4.19)1 / 1224
Title:The Graveyard Book
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Other authors:Dave Mckean (Illustrator)
Info:HarperCollins (2008), Edition: Later printing, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, young adult

Work details

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)

  1. 333
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (FFortuna, moonstormer)
  2. 243
    The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (veracity)
  3. 161
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  4. 174
    A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle (lorax)
    lorax: Beagle's work is not YA, but it is a classic, beautifully written love story involving ghosts and a man living in a cemetary.
  5. 110
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (emperatrix)
  6. 113
    Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  7. 81
    The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (timspalding)
  8. 81
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (heidialice)
    heidialice: Both are fantastical YA at its best. Gaiman is an acknowledged inspiration for Mieville, and it shows, though he has his own distinctive style and voice.
  9. 71
    The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer)
  10. 1510
    Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (ut.tecum.loquerer)
  11. 40
    The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (kawika)
  12. 51
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (PghDragonMan)
  13. 62
    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel by John Connolly (jonathankws)
  14. 52
    From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury (Ape)
    Ape: Eerily similar stories...
  15. 96
    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (heidialice)
    heidialice: Similar in setting, and both ghost stories, these are very different books, but fans of one should be interested in the other.
  16. 30
    The Palace of Laughter by Jon Berkeley (FFortuna)
  17. 30
    Abarat by Clive Barker (kawika)
  18. 20
    Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham (keeneam)
  19. 20
    A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (MyriadBooks)
  20. 42
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J. K. Rowling (Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: Childhood and adolescent,murdered parents, supernatural, cultural and social isolation, ghosts - any Potter fan would love this quaint coming of age story.

(see all 34 recommendations)

Ghosts (2)
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English (1,051)  German (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Hungarian (1)  Romanian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (1,070)
Showing 1-5 of 1051 (next | show all)
It was pretty good but am not sure if it was an award winner. ( )
  ksmedberg | Aug 15, 2018 |
Couldn't finish it. ( )
  davidmasters | Aug 4, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book A LOT !!! It was very fun and I was sad to see it end. This was my first Gaiman read and I'm looking forward on reading more of his books. ( )
  nu-bibliophile | Jun 30, 2018 |
(LT recommended. Newbery, Locus, Hugo, Carnegie medals, Greenaway medal (for illustrations) short-listed)

The story of The Graveyard Book is that of Bod's (Nobody Owens's) childhood.

"He looks like nobody but himself," said Mrs Owens, firmly. "He looks like nobody."
"Then Nobody it is," said Silas. "Nobody Owens."

The story opens as we follow the man Jack through a house where he has just assassinated a family; all, that is, except the toddler - but as he goes to the baby's room, he finds that the child has disappeared. The man Jack is nothing if not patient, and sets off to hunt for the child.

In the meantime, the child has found his way to the nearby graveyard, and in the trusting way of young children, has made friends with Mrs Owens. Who happens to be a ghost. As the man Jack gets closer to his quarry, the spirit of the baby's mother begs Mrs Owens to save her child, and so the baby finds a new family, and the man Jack's quest is confounded - for the time being.

Now the denizens of the graveyard (of about a thousand people buried there, from the time of the Romans onwards, only about three hundred choose to wander above ground) are left with a quandary; how are the ghosts to raise a living child? Mr and Mrs Owens have agreed to adopt him, and then Silas - who is neither living nor dead, and can therefore walk both worlds (albeit only after dark) - promises to be his guardian and procure such things as food that a living boy will need. As he says, they will all have to help to bring him up.

"... For good or for evil - and I firmly believe it is for good - Mrs Owens and her hsuband have taken this child under their protection. It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will," said Silas, "take a graveyard."

What follows is the story of Bod's upbringing and unconventional education - Fading, Haunting, and Dream Walking, for instance - and how he, and the man Jack, meet their nemeses.

This is the third Neil Gaiman book I have read, the first being Good Omens which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett. Because of this, however, I keep expecting Gaiman's writing to be a lot funnier. The humour is there, though it's subtle and doesn't come quite as thick and fast as in a Discworld book, nor is it (for the most part) as referential as in Good Omens. I found it amusing that every time a new ghostly character was introduced, they were accompanied by the dates and quote from their tombstone; or the fact that Mr and Mrs Owens have been married for more than 250 years, living and dead, and know each other very well.

Except for the first page, when Bod's living family is killed, I didn't find the book too dark (despite the name); there are a couple of instances when Bod meets some of the scarier entities, but (being brought up by ghosts and so on), he treats them matter-of-factly.

I do like the way Gaiman says something without actually saying it; for instance, he somehow conveys the depth of the relationship between Silas and Bod in a few succinct sentences scattered through the book which skirt around their feelings.

The illustrations, at the beginning of each chapter, are fun too; the tattooed man stands out, for me.

I confess to shedding a few tears at the end when ... (but that would spoil it for you); suffice to say, other LT-ers admitted that they did too.

Well worth following up on this LT recommendation.

4 stars **** ( )
  humouress | Jun 20, 2018 |
This is the first Neil Gaiman I have read, and I must say I feel like I've been missing out up until now. Magical writing, involving story line, and lines that grab you completely. This is a story I will remember for a long time. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 1051 (next | show all)
Gaiman writes with charm and humor, and again he has a real winner.
added by lampbane | editVOYA, Rayna Patton (Jul 24, 2009)
Like a bite of dark Halloween chocolate, this novel proves rich, bittersweet and very satisfying.
This is fine work, from beginning to end, and the best bedtime story read-aloud material I've encountered in a long time. Can't wait until my daughter's old enough to read this to.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Oct 10, 2008)
When the chilling moments do come, they are as genuinely frightening as only Gaiman can make them, and redeem any shortcomings.
While “The Graveyard Book” will entertain people of all ages, it’s especially a tale for children. Gaiman’s remarkable cemetery is a place that children more than anyone would want to visit. They would certainly want to look for Silas in his chapel, maybe climb down (if they were as brave as Bod) to the oldest burial chamber, or (if they were as reckless) search for the ghoul gate. Children will appreciate Bod’s occasional mistakes and bad manners, and relish his good acts and eventual great ones. The story’s language and humor are sophisticated, but Gaiman respects his readers and trusts them to understand.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Iacobaci, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parpola, InkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Plouhinec, Valérie LeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riddell, ChrisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Rattle his bones
Over the stones
It's only a pauper
Who nobody owns

-- Traditional Nursery Rhyme
First words
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
Fortinbras Bartleby, ten years old when he had died (of consumption, he had told Bod, who had mistakenly believed for several years that Fortinbras had been eaten by lions or bears, and was extremely disappointed to learn it was merely a disease), now apologized to Bod.
“You’re always you, and that doesn’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Nehemiah Trot said, “Ah, list to me, young Leander, young Hero, young Alexander. If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
“And for that reason, if for no other, it is vital that the child be raised with as little disruption as possible to the, if you’ll forgive the expression, the life of the graveyard.”
"It's like the people who believe they'll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn't work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." p. 104
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the original prose book. Please don't combine it with any other format (Graphic novel, movie, etc).
Publisher's editors
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Nobody Owens lost his "really" family when he was infant and became adopted by a ghost family in his local cemetery. Aside from having ghosts for parents and guardians he also persued by the mysterious man who killed his family.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060530928, Hardcover)

In The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman has created a charming allegory of childhood. Although the book opens with a scary scene--a family is stabbed to death by "a man named Jack” --the story quickly moves into more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers. A pallid, nocturnal guardian named Silas ensures that Bod receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and acquires the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond. (ages 10 and up) -–Heidi Broadhead

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:56 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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