Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book is Neil Gaiman’s welcome return to the realm of YA fiction.  The last time he tread these waters (not counting Interworld, which he plotted) he came up with Coraline a book that to paraphrase the author, children would love but which would give their parents nightmares.  It was pretty good too, winning a Hugo, a Nebula, a Bram Stoker award, and picking up a nomination for the Carnegie Medal.  Gaiman is an incredibly gifted writer, being the most natural storyteller working today next to perhaps Jane Yolen.

So my expectations were pretty high for this book, and it doesn’t quite match them, but it does come pretty damn close.  The story has the annoyingly high concept of the Jungle Book in a cemetery.  I think the premise bothers me more than anything else really, it’s just one too many gothic fables and I think the fad is begining to pass at last.  

But besides that the book is written masterfully.  The story is structured as a series of shorts, that can be read equally well as individual pieces or as a whole.  Gaiman also shows an incredible level of respect for his target audience.  I think this story is aimed at the tween crowd, but there is plenty here that will appeal to adults as well.  Given the material, there are some horror elements in the story, with quite a few frightening scenes and some violence early on.  But I think it still manages to stay age appropriate at all times.

This book is definitly a must for Halloween this year.  And if your kids like it then maybe they’ll be ready to try Kippling next.

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