Graveyard BookTitle: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrations: Dave McKean
ISBN: 978006053092
Pages: 312 pages
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Publishers, c2008.

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately. The knife had done almost everything it was brough to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.” (1-3)

Neil Gaiman, in his Newbery Award winning book The Graveyard Book, sets a spooky and secretive mood that continues throughout the novel. The story opens with the parents and older sister of a small toddler being murdered by the mysterious Jack. The toddler, who comes to be called Nobody Owens, escapes into the nearby graveyard, where the ghosts agree to care for him. He’s given the Freedom of the Graveyard, which allows him some of the powers that the ghosts have, including fading and generating fear. The silent Silas, belonging neither to the world of the dead or the living, agrees to become his guardian. But not even Silas can guarantee Bod’s safety when he grows older and begins to leave the graveyard with increasing frequency. Because no one knows when Jack will be coming back to finish the murder he started.

The opening two double page spread of darkness surrounding an outstretched hand and knife is eerie and beautifully sets the tone for the rest of the book, alternating between discovery and danger. The questions of mortality, the afterlife, and death are delicately handled, not leaning towards one religion in particular. Facts about the ghost world are doled out slowly, encouraging readers to continue if only to discover the things that Nobody continues to find out. The ending was spot on as well, with readers left imagining what will happen to Nobody in the future.