Monday, August 5, 2019

"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

Oh. My.

So, I've heard some pretty glowing stuff about this book from a lot of people over the past few years.  I even checked it out of the library once, but didn't get around to reading it before it was due.  

Mostly, I wanted to read it because I love graveyards. I love to ramble around in them, reading headstones and soaking up history.  When we lived in Connecticut, there was a massive graveyard a few blocks from our house that was the only really wide-open space with grass and trees that we could find for my energy-soaked toddler to run around in.  It was a popular spot for joggers and other moms with strollers.

Anyway.  I just never quite got interested enough in this book to read it until I read somewhere recently that it's a retelling of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  I adore The Jungle Book, especially Bagheera, the massive black panther guardian of little Mowgli.  So I thought I'd give this a try at last.  Especially since I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane so much.

Reader, I loved it.  LOVED IT, I SAY.  

Especially Silas, the Bagheera character who was a vampire.  Honestly, if someone had just said to me, "Bagheera is a vampire in this book!" I would have snatched it up immediately.  Because I also love vampires.  Especially really good vampire guardians who use their majestic, undying power to care for and protect someone.  (My second-favorite TV show of all time is Angel, the spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its main character, the protective good vampire Angel, is one of my 5 favorite fictional characters of all time.  It's a thing.)  So, yeah, wow.  Silas was amazing.  Also, I love the name Silas because of Slow West (2015), and I had a merry time imagining Michael Fassbender as a vampire, and yeah.  

But the whole book was amazing.  Smart, funny, exciting, scary/creepy in the best ways, and thoroughly satisfying.

A little baby's family is killed by a relentless murderer, the man Jack, but the baby is taken in and protected by the ghosts that live in a nearby graveyard.  They name him Nobody, Bod for short, and raise him in the graveyard.  The vampire Silas reluctantly becomes his guardian, then mentor, then friend, and Bod learns all sorts of unusual skills (I wish I knew how to Fade, because that sounds so handy in so many social situations), and eventually he has to confront his family's murderer, of course.  Oh, it's delicious!  Delicious, I tell you!

This might be the best new-to-me book I've read this year.

Particularly Good Bits:

"I've absolutely no idea," said Silas, who consumed only one food, and it was not bananas (p. 27).

There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas (p. 149).

At the best of times his face was unreadable.  Now his face was a book written in a language long forgotten, in an alphabet unimagined.  Silas wrapped the shadows around him like a blanket, and stared after the way the boy had gone, and did not follow (p. 194).

"You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it" (p. 298).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for scary scenes involving murder, ghosts, demons, etc.


  1. Whoa, you love graveyards, too???? KINDRED SPIRITS *high-fives*

    I definitely want to read this story now.

    1. Katie, yes!!! The older, the better. Wonderful places.

      It's SO atmospheric. Delicious. I want to re-read it already.

    2. Graveyards are such peaceful, contemplative places. I am definitely a fan.

      That is awesome :D

  2. I'm so glad you liked it! It's one of my favorites and I try to read it every fall.

    1. Skye, that's so cool! I could get into that tradition.

  3. No way! I've seen this book in our library sssssoooo many times, and I've heard about it a lot, but I never realized that it was a version of The Jungle Book! Now I'm interested, even if vampires and things like that creep me out, I still want to try it!

    1. MC, yeah, it was finding out from some blogger/Bookstagrammer somewhere that it's a Jungle Book retelling that made me want to read it too! The vampire is very good and there's only a couple of really intense parts -- not much creepiness except involving the bad guy, who is human.

    2. MC, btw, my 12-yr-old son just read this and wasn't too creeped out by it. And he thinks the LOTR movies are "too scary" (tho he's read the book), so that can maybe tell you the level of not-actually-scary-but-sorta-creepy that this book is?

    3. Yeah, that does help! I know that LotR was creepy for me but not terrifying. Thanks for the update. :-) It sounds like a fantastic setting!


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