The month of not knowing how many layers to wear. Of feeling boiling hot then freezing cold then Goldilocks warm, and back again. Of crunchy leaves under raggedy boots. Of apples, apples everywhere. The month of silver clouds, torrential rain, and sometimes-golden sun. Of wood-smoky fires. Of nights drawing in and of Halloween creeping its way closer and closer on a pair of spider-webbed tippy toes.
So in honour of all things Halloween, I’ve turned my reading focus to the dark side.
And where better to start than a graveyard?
Neil Gaiman and Halloween are a match made in heaven.
Well. Maybe more like a match made in hell.
The Graveyard Book is everything you would hope for and expect from a YA story set in a cemetery by Neil Gaiman (with illustrations by Chris Riddell). There are ghosts and ghouls and witches, angels of death, vampires and werewolves, a sprinkling of cut-throat baddies, plus a goodhearted but sometimes misguided hero.
Nobody “Bod” Owens is the sole member of his family to survive a hit by a supernatural assassin known simply as ‘the man Jack’. Only a helpless toddler at the time of the murders, Bod is taken in by the ghosts of a nearby graveyard and is raised as one of their own. But as he grows up and ventures more into the world beyond the graveyard’s gates, the threat from ‘the man Jack’ – still on the hunt for his missed kill – becomes ever more dangerous.
I loved this book. It’s simple but fun; a gloriously ghoulish adventure.
And although it’s most definitely aimed at the children’s/YA market, its themes are ageless, timeless, and oh so wise. I was constantly scrabbling around for a notebook and pen as I read, trying to keep track of all its life lessons.
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” page 217.
“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything.” page 165.
“Things bloom in their time. They bud and bloom, blossom and fade. Everything in its time.” page 136.
*raises hands in reverie towards book heaven/hell*
The Graveyard Book is a seamless blend of light and deathly dark.
The best stories always are.