April 28, 2010

The Graveyard Book


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is an amazing feat of storytelling. But what do you expect from Gaiman? The guys has stories coming out his ears. I didn't think he could top the Sandman stories, then he started writing amazing novels. I didn't think he could top those, then he started writing for children. He takes the best of Carroll, Kipling, Poe and Harlan Ellison and just goes on and on and on telling one fabulous tale after another.

You've probably heard the summary. A baby boy's family is murdered (off stage) and he happens to crawl through the open door and across the street to a graveyard. He is protected and raised by a wonderful assortment of ghosts, a vampire and others.

Gaiman is fantastic reader as well. I read the actual book, but I've heard him enough to have his voice in my head as I read this. (Don't worry, it's a pleasant experience.) You can see him read it here on his video book tour of the book. (I'm just not patient enough to sit and watch them all in front of the computer.)

There are few flaws. The bad guy(s) aren't as freaky as first built up, but that's not his point anyway. It's a bit too episodic for me, but that's okay. It's his riff on The Jungle Book and a wonderful one at that. It may not quite reach the powerful heights of the His Dark Materials trilogy, but again, it's okay. This stands with some of the best children's fantasy's around.

The writing is graceful and lighter than air. The humorous touches are expert. The emotional touches even more so. You know it's a classic when you get to the end and you couldn't be happier with it or sadder that it's come. It does what the best stories do: makes you happy to be alive.