Resurrected book review: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

This became my favorite book in 2009. Here’s what I originally wrote about it.


I very nearly cried at the end. There were tears in my eyes and I’m still recovering from being extremely choked up. It wasn’t even a sad ending, but incredibly sad partings — so weird, it’s like the opposite of death, life saying goodbye to death — they kill me. He’ll see them again someday, as he said, but oh, knowing he’ll never be able to see his parents or all his childhood friends and companions again…. But Silas, at least. He’ll meet up with Silas again, certainly. That’s good.

SIGH. It’s a wonderful book, I have to buy a copy. I liked it more than American Gods, and it struck me more emotionally than Stardust. What a fantastic concept and world…being raised by ghosts, growing up with the dead. That’s a certainty — Bod will never have any fear of death. I loved that line:

Silas said, “Out there, the man who killed your family is, I believe, still looking for you, still intends to kill you.”Bod shrugged. “So?” he said. “It’s only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead.”

AH, my love for Silas. Whom I knew from the beginning – with certainty from that gorgeous line about how he “consumed only one food, and it was not bananas” — was a vampire. Even though we never actually got that word as confirmation, but hey, in the end he was packing up his coffin with dried earth in it, and that combined with everything else (the hypnotism, power of flight, the way he fluttered and such, climbing headfirst down from the church spire, where he sleeps during the day – yeah) was confirmation. ….Ah, I’m looking through the first chapter again, and I love the first description of him:

The man Jack was tall. This man was taller. The man Jack wore dark clothes. This man’s clothes were darker. People who noticed the man Jack when he was about his business – and he did not like to be noticed – were troubled, or made uncomfortable, or found themselves unaccountably scared. The man Jack looked up at the stranger, and it was the man Jack who was troubled.


So, let’s jump and talk about parallels to two of my other Favorite Things. At first, I was reminded strongly of Harry Potter, what with how the book opened with a murdered family and no one but the infant son surviving, against incredibly unlikely odds, and despite how the murderer was extremely skilled and powerful. Then how the “other world” adopted him and made him safe that way (also how it was his mother’s desperate plea that moved Mistress Owens to adopt him). Then, as he got older (hmm, I can’t remember how old he was when he first left the graveyard – maybe eight instead of ten or eleven), he began to cross with the outside world, stirring up the old original murderer and danger. Bod is resourceful like Harry! He even descends down into the hill with mysterious objects and an old thing, much like Harry traveled through the trapdoor at the end of the first book.

But there were also some things that reminded me of Hellsing, what with…Silas. Awesome guardian of awesomeness. Much less passionate than Alucard, but he’s still an awesome guardian who saved (on multiple occasions) a child’s life from murderers. Oh, and this fantastic passage near the end:

“But you did the right thing. I mean, stopping the Jacks. They were terrible. They were monsters.”Silas took a step closer to Bod, which made the youth tilt back his head to look up at the tall man’s pale face. Silas said, “I have not always done the right thing. When I was younger…I did worse things than Jack. Worse than any of them. I was the monster, then, Bod, and worse than any monster.”It did not even cross Bod’s mind to wonder if his guardian was lying or joking. He knew that he was being told the truth. He said, “But you aren’t that any longer, are you?”

Silas said, “People can change,” and then fell silent. Bod wondered if his guardian – if Silas – was remembering.

OH OH, and also this line of description earlier, after his and Bod’s first fight:

Silas began to call the boy back, then he stopped, and stood there in the night alone.At the best of times his face was unreadable. Now his face was a book written in a language long forgotten, in an alphabet unimagined. Silas wrapped the shadows around him like a blanket, and stared after the way the boy had gone, and did not move to follow.

From another passage:

His guardian looked at him with eyes like black pools and said, “I do not know. I know many things, Bod, for I have been walking this earth at night for a very long time, but I do not know what it is like to dance the Macabray. You must be alive or you must be dead to dance it – and I am neither.”Bod shivered. He wanted to embrace his guardian, to hold him and tell him that he would never desert him, but the action was unthinkable. He could no more hug Silas than he could hold a moonbeam, not because his guardian was insubstantial, but because it would be wrong. There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.

Jumping to another topic – I was glad Scarlett suddenly fled like that at the end, that their romance didn’t end so perfectly like stories prescribe. And oh, Liza Hempstock’s goodbye to Bod really got me started on almost-crying. WAH. …Maybe something will work out for them after he dies?

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