The Graveyard Book

February 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm (Uncategorized)

A young boy loses his family in tragic circumstances; indeed, he is lucky to remain alive himself. but instead of death, he is granted a second chance, and a second family who raise him and protect him from danger until the day he becomes a man.  It’s a familiar story – in fact it’s The Jungle Book.And yet, Neil Gaiman who opens admit his debt to Kipling’s story, has given a wholly original spin to this story in The Graveyard Book.

I discovered Neil Gaiman almost twenty years ago when he was writing the Sandman Stories (the first one I read was A Dream of Cats). Gaiman’s stories took myths, legends and popular culture and mixed them in wildly original ways. I loved American Gods, my kids loved The Wolves in the Walls, and  The Day I swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, and my eldest loved Coraline, and now The Graveyard Book.

The Graveyard Booktells the story of Nobody Owens, called Bod by those who know him. One cold night, while he is just a baby, his entire family falls beneath the savage knife of the Man Jack. By an accident of fate, the baby crawls away and into a nearby graveyard. There is is rescued by the ghostly population, protected by the mysterious Silas, and adopted by the Owens family. In the discussion over his name, it is mentioned, he is like Nobody. and thus he is named.

Each chapter details Bod’s growth. His relations with the other ghosts and his education. His mid-adventures in the spirit world and with the terrors that lurk there (be careful of ghoul gates when you visit the cemetery), his relations with humanity, including an abortive attempt to go to school, and finally the mystery of the Man Jack.

Neil Gaiman is a skilled writer.  It’s a rare talent to write for adults and for children. There can be few people, who’ve not said, oh I could write a children’s book, but it’s not that easy. Gaiman doesn’t condescend when he writes for kids, and so people like me, well into life, enjoy it too.

Like Mowgli, Nobody Owens is part of a bigger world. But like him, you are fortunate enough to peek into it with this novel. Off you go now.

(Oh, and it you haven’t read the Kipling Stories, but just saw the film, it’s worth reading them too. )



  1. Nish said,

    Nice review…I just finished reading it and I totally loved it. My thoughts are penned here…

  2. Notes on Kipling « Notes from Underground said,

    […] much later that I read the stories (I re-read them last year after reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book)  They are fantastic stories. The adventures of Mowgli and others mixed with Kipling’s poems […]

  3. Notes on Being a Dad (Part 2) « Notes from Underground said,

    […] at the end of the day, we finished Neil Gaiman’s marvelous take on Kipling,  The Graveyard Book. (What to read next is a problem, but I’m sure something will be […]

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