Skip to main content
PBS logo
 
 

Book Reviews of The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN-13: 9780061709128
ISBN-10: 0061709123
Publication Date: 10/1/2008
Pages: 384
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 78

4 stars, based on 78 ratings
Publisher: HarperCollins
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

41 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

ophelia99 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 2527 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
When I heard that Gaiman was releasing another book I was very excited and I am happy to say that this book met all of my expectations. Gaiman is such an excellent storyteller.

This book expands on one of the short stories in "M is for Magic" by Neil Gaiman. In that story we meet Bod, a boy who lives in a graveyard. This book tells about how Bod got there and of the adventures he had there. You learn more about the mysterious Jack too! In fact I believe chapter 4 or 5 of The Graveyard Book, is actually an exact reprint of this story.

The story starts with a creepy killer named Jack who kills Bod's whole family (trust me no spoilers here, this happens in the first page); Bod as a small, curious toddler escapes to the graveyard. The book is interesting in that for the first two-thirds of the book each chapter is more of a short-story about Nobody Owens (Bod). Initially there is a large time span between each chapter and in each chapter (short-story) we learn about one of Bod's adventures in the Graveyard. As you get towards the end of the book things happen closer together and the chapters turn into more of what you would consider a standard chapter.

It is fascinating to hear about a boy who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts. Bod develops into and strong and very interesting character, that you can't help but love. Silas, the guardian of the graveyard, is also fascinating. Gaiman, as usual, adds an ironic touch to the story by showing how similar Bod's issues when growing up are with any other childs.

As for being a kids' book; for the most part the book would be okay to read to a young child. The first chapter, where Jack murders Bod's family, I found the be extremly creepy; so I would shy away at reading this chapter to a young child. Many of the other chapters are also scary. If a child under 10 was going to read this book, I would say a parent should read through it first and then you can read it together and skip any inappropriate parts. This book, naturally, deals a ton with death and what it means to be dead.

I absolutely loved this book. I thought the age level was a bit higher than Gaiman's Coraline. People who complain about Gaiman being too morbid, haven't read enough Gaiman. He is like the young adult, fairy tale version of Stepan King...many of his stories are crafted to make you think and feel slightly uncomfortable. This was absolutely a wonderfully crafted story, it's one I am keeping to add to my book collection.
katfusion avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the story of Nobody Owens, a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard. It's a pretty cute story. Not the best juvenile book I've ever read, because I think it was a little too "young" for me, but I know a lot of people would love it. It's my first Neil Gaiman, and I can see why people like him. It's whimsical and well written and Mr. Gaiman has a heck of an imagination.

I'd probably read him again, and recommend this book to anyone wanting a light, fun read.
Trey avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 260 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I snagged this one after it was recommended to me by a friend and the next day it won the Newberry award. At that point I decided, 'I need to read this.' One mildly frustrating call to Books-a-Million later (We don't have it and can't get it. No, I don't know why (and can't be arsed to ask up the food chain why). I don't care if the website has it ... we have one in stock.)

Anyway, it was fun. It's a pretty light hearted fantasy piece and really makes me itch to re-read The Jungle Book. Its about Nobody Owens, the only survivor of his family and finds sanctuary in a local graveyard that's a nature reserve. There, the then nameless infant, is adopted and named by the inhabitants of the graveyard - some ghostly, one not so much. That last one would be Silas and he almost steals the show from Nobody, but Gaiman keeps the spotlight on Nobody and it works. The stories tell of Nobody growing to adolescence and his efforts to also learn to deal with the living - all the while trying to escape the attentions of the man that killed his family.

I liked it. I've dropped it in a drawer for my daughter when she gets older (along with The Thirteen Clocks and Mistress Masham's Repose). Time to see about a copy of The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.
starfkr avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
If you are a fan of YA fiction (and specifically Harry Potter), you are sure to enjoy this book. Gaiman creates a magical world in which our protagonist, Nobody Owens, lives. After his family is murdered Nobody makes his way to the local graveyard where he is cared for and raised by the ghosts that inhabit it. It's a sweet story, blending fantasy and mystery together in a way I found delightful. I found myself bawling at the end of the book; I didn't want it to end! I loved it.
Sleepy26177 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 218 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
For me it was an impulse to buy this extraordinary book. Actually I walked through B&N children books when I saw the interesting, shining cover. Of course I had read about the book sooner on different forums so I bought it and din't really read the books description. :-)

The man named Jack enters quietly the house, leaving the father, the mother and the daughter dead. With only the little toddler left he makes his way up to the top of the house to find the toddlers crib being empty.
The boy is awaken by a crash in the house. His curious manners make crawl, walking isn't an option at this young age, out of his room, down the stairsand through the open front door.
The man named Jack sniffs the air. He sniffs through the house, outside the door and follows the child's scent.

Mrs. and Mr. Owens look down onto the little toddler that half naked just crawled through the graveyards gates. The approaching man seems to be its father but then they hear a shout the man is going to kill the boy. Mrs. Owens speaks to the voice and fading shadow that begs them to protect the child and take it into their midst.
Mrs. and Mr. Owens agree and the child vanishes in the mist leaving the man Jack alone on the graveyard.
The Owens have been dead for hundreds of years and so have their graveyard friends. It is decided that the boy stays on the graveyard to be safe and raised like their own. With his guardian the solitary Silas, the boy grows and learns the secrets and dangers of the graveyard but getting older he seeks for more then the graveyard can offer bringing him to the danger of the outside world and eventually exposing him to the man who has never stopped searching for him.

-

I find the book utterly charming and entertaining.
The idea of having a child raised by ghosts learning the ghost of all ages and the graveyards history and accomplishing ghostly abilities is fascinating and lovely described by the writer.
The character Silas and his whole role in the book almost demand of more of him and his following adventures and maybe his former life. Same goes for the man Jack and what drove him to end the lives of Bod's family.

The first chapter though seems for me a bit too graphic for the recommended age range. Being not an expert on children books or not being a parent myself I'd still recommend parents to read over it first and then decide if their child's development is far enough to handle graphic scenes. The chapter might has well have been taken from a cozy mystery.

Otherwise the book is perfectly safe, including everything a child might like: A little creepy, lots of love and friendship between the ghosts and their community and how much love they put into the boys education. Lovely and enchanting.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I've read everything Neil Gaiman's written and it's all good, but nothing else of his has engaged me and pulled me in like this one. I had actually read a library copy of it first and decided I wanted to read it again, and was delighted to find it on PBS.

Technichally, it's classified as "young adult" fiction but this old broad thinks it's a terrific concept woven into a fantastic story and told by a master.

If you like this book, see if you can find the audio CD or download of Gaiman reading it aloud. It's even better, hearing the voices he uses for different characters.

I'd love to think there might be a sequel someday. The ending certainly lends itself to one. Even without it, though, this is a MUST-READ for any fan of fantasy fiction or parallel-universe or "between two worlds" kinds of stories...or for that matter anyone who just enjoys a good story based on a unique idea and told brilliantly.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 3 more book reviews
This book was a dark and charming journey into the relationship between the living and the dead. in this story, the dead can love and hate. i loved this glimmering look into the life of ghosts.
b-e-e avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 16 more book reviews
I enjoyed this story of a child brought up by goblins and ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Similar to the plotline of the Harry Potter series except most of the characters are ghosts. This book contains many characteristics we pray our children embrace- loyalty, honesty, bravery, friendship and responsibility. Not at all scary but a fun ghost story.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 12 more book reviews
Different, but amazing... i felt like i was in the book
illiane avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on
Neil Gaiman is a brilliant master storyteller. He weaves such a beautiful, complex tapestry of imagination that it can leave one breathless and always wanting more. I love this man's work.

The Graveyard Book calls to mind old fairytales, stories that were rich, and deep, mysterious, entertaining and sombering at the same time. Stories as they were before they got Disney-fied and made parents fear that the littlest things would scare and scar their children for life. Try this book - you may find it hard to put down.
justreadingabook avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 1705 more book reviews
Absolutely loved this book.
You are hooked from the first chapter and will continue to read through if possible.
Engaging and delightful.
susieqmillsacoustics avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 1061 more book reviews
An enchanting and spooky tale. "Bod" is a lovable and unique character. I enjoyed the residents of the graveyard and the situations Bod experienced as he grew. It is a very imaginative and fun read.
daylily77 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 236 more book reviews
Such a quirky twist on a coming of age book. A touch of paranormal, a hint of romance with thrills and excitement. An enjoyable little book. Neil Gaiman reads his books oh so well, listened to this one on cd commuting. Loved every minute of the book. Gaiman is quite talented and tremendously entertaining.
terez93 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 273 more book reviews
This first rate young adult novel is a twist on the traditional "ghost" story, whereby the reader is introduced to the world of the ghosts, a small, English graveyard populated by an entire "town" of spirits from many time periods, from ancient to modern. Their extraordinary world changes when one night, a toddler wanders into their graveyard, who has the uncanny ability to see them. As it turns out, the child's entire family was murdered by an unknown figure, who stalks the child into the graveyard, where he is hidden and protected by the multitude of friendly spirits. A childless couple then decides to adopt him, and names him Nobody Owens. They also enlist the assistance of an "un-living" figure, Silas, to provide for the child's material needs, as the ghosts can't leave the confines of the graveyard.

Young Bod is granted the Protection of the Graveyard, which means that he is bestowed with some of the spirits' supernatural powers, such as the ability to Fade, to instill Fear and to move with ease through the physical features of the cemetery. As the child grows, the graveyard becomes his whole world: nevertheless, he feels little deprived, as it takes a village to raise a child, and Bod has one - the whole community of ghosts, each with their own outlook on life and the afterlife, who instruct him in the various skills he needs to survive in the world of the dead and, eventually the world of the living. As with all of us, some new figures from the outside world occasionally make an appearance, including Scarlet, a five-year-old girl who finds Bod during her playtime in the cemetery, now a nature reserve, and Miss Lupesco, a werewolf enlisted to watch Bod while his physical guardian is away. More than any of the others, she begins his "formal" education, which includes geography, "languages" and other skills he will need to occupy the liminal space between life and death, and the world of the living and the world of the dead.

This beautifully written, poignant novel is full of the wisdom of the ages which even the young (and young at heart) will appreciate. (âYou're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.â; âIt's like the people who believe they'll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn't work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.") Although it's definitely heavy material, it's full of important lessons, such as bravery, loyalty, and love of a supportive community, even an adopted one. It turns on its head the typical trope about graveyards as a scary and threatening place. The author even wrote about this, regarding how he composed the ending: he had seen a documentary about South American death squads. The segment told the story of a young girl who had hidden every night in a mausoleum, where the death squads were afraid to tread, which had saved her. The cemetery then became rather than a place of ominous foreboding, a place of safety and refuge.

The end is quite bittersweet, as Bod loses his ability when coming upon adulthood, and, subsequently, a loss of innocence, to see and engage with his spirit "family," and thus must go out into the Big World to make his mark. It appears that he can't go home again... at least until he has lived his life. Only then can he return home, if he chooses, for the last time. Some of the novel's themes, such as Bod's leaving home at long last, with a few bucks in his pocket, to make his way on his own, now far removed from the protection of his ghost adoptive parents, will be far more poignant and heartbreaking for adults than children, I'll wager, but readers of any age will thoroughly enjoy this book. One of my favorite passages, in fact, reads as follows: "I had set out to write a book about childhood... I was now writing about being a parent, and the fundamental most comical tragedy of parenthood: that if you do your job properly, if you, as a parent, raise your children well, they won't need you anymore. If you did it properly, they go away. And they have lives and they have families and they have futures." Poignant, indeed.

This edition also includes some goodies for real fans: it features the acceptance speech the author gave when the book won the Newberry Prize, well deserved, as well as some handwritten pages of the original and some of the illustrations.
tiffanyak avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 215 more book reviews
They call this a children's book, but as an adult I can honestly say I quite enjoyed it, and was a bit freaked out by it to tell the truth. There were some scenes (especially the opening chapter) which lead me to seriously question whether this book is appropriate for children at all. It scared me a little, and I'm by no means a little kid. That being said, it's a well-written, well-executed, and very creative story that keeps you guessing to the very end. I had fun reading it, and strongly recommend it to anyone.

What's it actually about, you ask? Well, without spoiling anything major, it's essentially the story of Nobody Owens (known as Bod) and his childhood. While a toddler, Bod's whole family is killed by a mysterious man known only as Jack. But Bod manages to get away, and finds shelter in a graveyard. The inhabitants of the graveyard decide to raise him. And so, the graveyard is where Bod grows up. Raised and taught by ghosts, with ghosts as his only friends. Throw in a protective vampire and werewolf, some ghouls, and all manner of other unusual individuals, and you get quite an adventure.

The early chapters of the book are essentially single 'episodes' in Bod's life. But then you get a more continuous story in the later chapters, making for a bit of an unusual format to an unusual story. But, it works rather well in this book, and actually seems rather appropriate. Neil Gaiman weaves a brilliant and entertaining tale which he has said was meant to be The Jungle Book set in a graveyard. You wouldn't think it'd work, but it does. This is one of the few complex 'children's stories' out there today. I particularly enjoyed the way that very little was simply given away. Gaiman would eventually tell the reader (for the most part) what was going on, and who everybody was, but you'd usually have plenty of time for guessing ahead of time, and some parts will still leave you guessing long after you finish reading. I found that to be the most fun part of the book.

Overall, I found this book to be one of my 'hidden treasures'. One of those books you pick up because it looks interesting, not expecting too much, only to find yourself pleasantly surprised. If you get a chance, check it out. My total rating: 4/5 stars.
annapi avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 334 more book reviews
This is the first book of Gaiman's that I want for my shelf! Well deserving of the Newbery award, it's the story of a young boy, Nobody ("Bod") Owens, raised by ghosts in a graveyard after his parents and sister are killed. When he grows to youth, he finds out that his family's killer is still out to get him. Full of intriguing characters and a wonderfully haunted and eerie atmosphere, this is an unusual book that transcends Gaiman's usual strange fare without losing any of his uniqueness, and will have a more universal appeal.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on
I thought the plot was such a creative idea and the book was cleverly written. I loved how when the boy walked by a ghost the name was often followed by the inscription on their tombstone. I loved the characters as well. It was a really fun book to read, however I was really disappointed with the ending. I thought the plot was rather thin, I hoped he would wrap it up better than that. I don't think the whole premise even made sense, but I won't spoil the ending by explaining. I still think it was worth reading.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 32 more book reviews
Wow. Definitely one of the best books I've read. It was a full book. Not light, or careless in any of the situations, or characters. Also, very interesting.
ashultz avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 15 more book reviews
One of Neil Gaiman's finest. Gaiman really brought the graveyard to life in this endearing story about a living boy raised by dead people and one very special guardian. I didn't want this book to end.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 4 more book reviews
The name of this book caught my eye as I was browsing through my Amazon.com app reading book reviews. Those reviews said that this is a tribute the The Jungle Book. I have never read The Jungle Book so I can't verify if that's true, but the stories do seem similar and the gouls put me in mind of the orangutangs in the Disney movie. That being said, I loved this book. I have the audio version and Neil Gaiman himself narrates. All I can say is Mr. Gaiman should be required to narrate all books, at least those set in England or with characters with English accents. If you enjoy audio books, do yourself a favor and listen. If not, you are sure to enjoy reading.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 15 more book reviews
I think I'm about the only one who didnt like the book. I saw it in the bookstore so checked it out at the library, I was disappointed. The book doesnt hold onto you. I tried to force myself to read it which I do, if I dont like the book I finish it because I started it, not this one. I do the same with movies too. I made it 1/2 way throguh the book before my month was up and had to take it back to the library. I didnt care about the characters, they didnt draw me in. I'm very happy I didnt actually buy the book first.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 22 more book reviews
This book is enchanting. It's a mixture of Alice in wonderland, Harry potter, and the Hobbit. While this book is actually intended for "tweeners" and young adults, it's one of the best I've read in a while. Each adventure is original nd frought with its owm scariness and humor. Highly recommended.
renegadespiritcat avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 197 more book reviews
Intriguing characters and manner of script that makes one think differently about life, death and the in between. Humorous in a twisted way but also thought provoking in others. Well thought out and a great read all the way around. Very glad a friend suggested it and happy to have read this book.
doatylucky avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 23 more book reviews
Absolutely fantastic!
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 68 more book reviews
I found this one to be very enjoyable. It was easy to read and you found yourself chearing the little one along his journey. It was sad in a couple of places but any good book can make you feel a range of emotions. Those are the ones we find that we will keep and read again and again.

I recomend this for anyone with children as a bedtime story to sit and read with. Your kids will love the ghost's and the adventures. The goblins are funny, and the ghost's are teachers. :) What kid wouldn't want to be raised in a graveyard. :)
nccorthu avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 569 more book reviews
A great read and certainly different from what is expected
bejuwi avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 32 more book reviews
Remarkable story!
Dex1138 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 26 more book reviews
While I enjoyed reading the story of Bod and seeing him grow up, it wasn't until the end that I realized I would need more to make this truly satisfying.
Some things are never fully explained and maybe that was the intent...to allow young readers to come up with their own ideas about things such as the Jacks of All Trades and the Honour Guard. Had I read this when I was the "intended age" I have no doubt I would've played at being a boy in the graveyard (probably in an actual graveyard), chatting with spirits and hiding from assassins.
However, I didn't like the mystery around the events that set the story in motion. We never find out why Bod's entire family was targeted other than a vague mention of an ancient prophecy.
Desire for more background aside, it managed to keep me wanting to see what was around the next bend. There are some wonderful scenes: the ghoul gate, the Danse Macabre and especially Bod's leaving the graveyard.
It seems open for a sequel and I'm curious to see what would become of Bod in the outside world.
nrlymrtl avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 297 more book reviews
Miss Lupescu (shape shifter), Scarlett (Bods first live friend), and Liza Hempstock (deceased witch) are some of my favorite characters. As Bod ages, he learns about ghouls, school bullies, and eventually the man who killed his first family.

I love this book for many reasons. Neil Gaiman does an excellent job of showing that not all scary things are inherently evil. Each chapter shows yet another facet of the world of the graveyard and those experiences shape Bod as he grows into a young man. I would jump for joy if Gaiman wrote a follow up novel exploring Bods life after this book.
dawnangel1966 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 17 more book reviews
I absolutely love this book. It's different and surprising and funny and imaginative. I love all the books by Neil Gaiman he is amazing. He's sold the movie rights to this book unfortunately nothing has been done with it yet but I can't wait until it comes out. I definitely recommend that you read it.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 1432 more book reviews
Once upon a time, there was a Boy Who Lived, despite the evil force that destroyed the rest of his family. And he was helped into manhood in a special place, unseen by most of the world, and protected and nurtured by people with skills and powers-- Wait a minute. Haven't we read this before? Well, not exactly. Because despite its Potterian echoes, this is a different story, with a very different resolution. And Gaiman manages to do it in a helluva lot less than seven volumes. Written (and acknowledged, by way of a Newbery Medal) as a YA book, it can also be enjoyed by readers whose growing-up years are far behind them. (In fact, those folks will probably enjoy Gaiman's Newbery speech almost as much as they enjoyed the story that earned the award.)
BaileysBooks avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 491 more book reviews
First, a few points: 1) This is a children's book. 2) It is written by Neil Gaiman. 3) Yes, it is possible for points 1 and 2 to co-exist. This book was very mild by traditional Neil Gaiman standards, and it would be possible for an older child (10+) to read this book without psychological trauma or recurring nightmares. In fact, I am almost inclined to call this book "sweet."

This book felt a little bit like a Neverwhere for kids. The plot, of course, is not as rich (because it is more age-appropriate) but the spirit of adventure and other-worldliness living among the "normal" world is palpable throughout. The plot is pretty safe, the action is relatively tame, and the danger (while still having Gaiman's fingerprints all over it) is nothing like what you would find in in his books for adults.

This was a simple but poignant and enjoyable read. I hold no reservations in my willingness to recommend it to others, especially if you're already a fan of Gaiman's work.
doodlina avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 26 more book reviews
Brilliant!
daylily77 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 236 more book reviews
Amazing. Great for kids of all ages.
jade19721 avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 115 more book reviews
Neil Gaiman is such a remarkable story teller. I would have loved to have had him as a dad growing up. He has the ability to spin tales like no other. This is my first Neil Gaiman book and I was a bit wary at first going into the story. It was a bit weird at first and I was hoping it would not creep me out like the movie Coraline. As Nobody was growing up in the graveyard I started to get into the story and eventually fell in love with all the characters.
reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 1430 more book reviews
Sometimes I think I like the author's notes before or after the novel itself. I may read the information before or after I read the book or both. Gaiman is concise and to the point. The story is very good - imaginative, creative and interesting. It begins rather dramatically with the murder of a family. The father, the mother, and the the daughter are killed but their son, just a toddler leaves the house to explore as wee ones do. The child wanders into a graveyard filled with ghosts who thwart the killer but don't know what to to do with him and the story unfolds from there as the child grows up in the graveyard. The story line flows smoothly and keeps one wondering where it will go next. This is an excellent read and I finished it in one day - well worth the effort. And, so were his remarks at the tale's end.
ThePhoenixx avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 3 more book reviews
Suspenseful romp through the graveyard
desertdreamer avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 23 more book reviews
This is the only Neil Gaiman book I've read. It was a wonderful read.
GeniusJen avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 5322 more book reviews
Reviewed by Breia "The Brain" Brickey for TeensReadToo.com

To start, I have to say that even though I have been reviewing young adult books, I have only been reviewing them from an adult point of view. I enjoyed reading this book so much and feel that, like his other book that I recently read, CORALINE, this is also a metaphor for growing up. That said, I shall revert to my young adult point of view.

I don't know that I knew much about metaphors and the like when I was younger, but overlooking any of that this was an awesome book to read. I enjoyed the characters throughout the book, especially the people who took care of Bod on a daily basis, like Miss Lupescu and Liza. The ending was kind of sad for me, though I knew it had to happen that way for the story to come to an end.

The story itself was very descriptive and I felt as if I was growing up along with Bod. The only thing that I would have changed is that I wanted to know more about The Jacks and the prophecy that they spoke of. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is filled with wondrous creatures and I liked the few pictures that there were - they were very well-drawn and I would have liked to have seen more of them.

Overall, I rate this a fantastic read and give it 5 Stars.
paisleywings avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 232 more book reviews
I started this book and then put it down. Two months later I began reading again and found it to be surprisely interesting. I guess I had to be in the mood for a graveyard story.
kesterbird avatar reviewed The Graveyard Book on + 28 more book reviews
cute, clever, and not particularly demanding.