Bod is leaving the graveyard, and we are leaving Bod’s tale.
This month, Stainless Steel Droppings has been hosting a read-along of The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s Newbury Medal Award winning take on Kipling’s Jungle Book. We’ve been introduced to Nobody Owens and the spirits who protect him, and watched him grow up. We’ve seen him as he encounters the preternatural and the all-too-human, and now he’s reached a point in his life where it is time for him to strike out into the world and leave behind those who raised him.
We get a last visit from Scarlett, lose Miss. Lupescu, and an end to the Jacks. There are wonderful scenes with Silas and all the ghosts, particularly Elizabeth Hempstock. Her story is particularly moving. I’m not going to go into a re-hash of the plot specifics, instead I would urge you, if you haven’t read this book, you should. Though not as sweeping and complex as larger works like American Gods or Sandman, The Graveyard Book is securely in Gaiman’s wheelhouse. He beautifully balances the bittersweet, the frightening, and the warmth necessary to give the book it’s measured feel. Boiling this book down to the bones of the plot doesn’t really get to what makes this book so good. The poetry and rhythm of Gaiman’s writing is where this book strikes gold.
This year, my son was still a little too young for this book, but I’m glad I re-read it with an understanding of his current tastes and threshold for complex stories. When I first read this book four years ago, I knew it would have to wait until he was older, but my memory of the book made it something more complicated than it is. This year would have been too soon, but next year feels just right. When he does read it, I intend to read it again. There are a small number of books I re-read regularly (Each October I dip back into Something Wicked This Way Comes, for example), I will definitely be adding The Graveyard Book to that list.