Book Reviews, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


I cannot believe I waited this long to read one of Neil Gaiman’s books!  Yes, you read that right.  This was my first time experiencing the pure excellence that is Neil Gaiman.  When I read the synopsis for The Graveyard Book, I knew I had to read it.  A human toddler is adopted by a group of ghosts and they proceed to raise him in a graveyard?  Sign me up!

thegraveyardbookAuthor:  Neil Gaiman

Genre:  Fantasy › Paranormal • Middle Grade/Young Adult

Version:  Audiobook (7h 47min listening length)

Narrator:  Neil Gaiman

Publisher:  HarperCollins Children’s

Source:  Hoopla


Book Synopsis:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My Thoughts:

After the brutal murder of his family, a toddler stumbles into a graveyard inhibited by a ghastly congregation.  He is taken in by a ghost couple, Mr. & Mrs. Owens, as his adoptive parents, and placed under the guardianship of a “man” by the name of Silas.  Nobody Owens, or “Bod” as he is fondly referred to, is given free rein over the graveyard.  The graveyard not only serves as his home, but also as his sanctuary.  The world outside the cemetery is not safe for Bod, as the man Jack is still out there waiting for the day he can finish his job of extinguishing Bod’s entire family.

What I loved the most about this book was that I feel like it appeals to such a wide audience.  From middle grade, to YA, to adult readers; there is a little something for everyone in The Graveyard Book.  I am embarrassed to say that I did not pick up on the fact that this book was inspired by the Jungle Book.  Only when this was mentioned in the afterward that I had that “aha!” moment.  Obviously I am not quick on the uptake.  The themes are the same in both books; mistrust of the different, breaking the traditional concept of family, coming of age, courage, etc etc.  Now that I think about it, Tarzan has similar themes as well… Look at that!  I made a connection all by myself 🙂

Neil has this incredible ability to write with such imagery, that I had no issues visualizing the story in my mind.  The entire time I was reading The Graveyard Book, I felt like I was watching a Tim Burton or Henry Selick film.  If you are a fan of movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, and Coraline (also a book by Neil Gaiman), then you will enjoy this book as it has a very similar feel to it.  Rumor has it that Henry Selick was selected to do the film adaptation of The Graveyard Book, but that it fell through… The latest news that I could find was a tweet by Neil Gaiman back in 2014 stating that Ron Howard would be making the movie…I thought it was an odd selection, but whatever.

With its gothic style and eerie tones, The Graveyard Book is the perfect book to read in the fall or around Halloween time.  This book is very mild on the “scary scale,” the most graphic part of the book is the first chapter that includes the triple murder and even then it is fairly tame.  It is the perfect blend of spooky and sweet without being overly scary, which suits me just fine. I listened to this via audiobook, so not only was this my first Gaiman book, but it was also my first time experiencing him as a narrator.  I must say, Neil’s narration is on point.  He has such a lovely voice, very calming and almost hypnotic.  It really compliments his work well.  I will most definitely be reading all of my Gaiman books via audiobook in the future.

I don’t really have any criticisms of The Graveyard Book, only that I want more of the residents of the graveyard: Mr.& Mrs. Owens, Silas, Miss Lupescu, Liza Hempstock… all such interesting characters, but we only got a small glimpse into who they were.  They are all still such a mystery to us.  Think about all the spin-off opportunities here!  I’m looking at you Gaiman.

Noteworthy Quotes:

“It’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. If you see what I mean.”

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”


 “You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

My Rating:5-Star Rating System


Other Book Recommendations:

» Coraline by Neil Gaiman


» Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


» A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


About the Author:

neilgaimanI make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean’s MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).  In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at more or less up to date.


48 thoughts on “Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman”

  1. Oh how I LOVE the name Nobody Owens! I was reading your review which btw is AMAZING as always, looking to see if you’d read or listed to the audiobook…alas, you’ve answered my question 🙂 I can now start this audiobook knowing that I’m in for a nice read. Don’t you just LOVE Gaiman’s narrating voice? I’ve said it before, I wish that man were my grandpa but that’s impossible on so many levels lol. I listened to Stardust & was def hypnotized by his soothing voice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! You’ve become a Gaiman fan! 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 I hear there’s a movie for Stardust but I’ve never seen it, book was AMAZING! He’s just a wonderful story teller 😊💕

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!! I’m about 100 pages into it and I’ve found myself at a stand still. This is my first Gaiman book, too! I have had Stardust on my TBR for ages, but felt like this would be the perfect time to read it. I’m enjoying it so far, just trying to find more motivation to push me through and I think I’ve found it with you! Thanks Amanda!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad to hear you had a positive experience with this! As I believe I mentioned before, I love listening to Gaiman read his own works. I am very picky about audiobooks, but as long as he is reading, I don’t care what the critics say.
    I agree that I would have liked to know more about the other Graveyard characters. But I think they were vague on purpose– just like Baloo and Baghira are portrayed. I think it’s easier to dismiss background with animals than “people” characters (ghosts, whatever).
    Do you think you’ll be reading more Gaiman now?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Anansi Boys, Norse Mythology, Smoke & Mirrors (Short story collection), Fortunately the Milk (children’s book), and The Sleeper & the Spindle (short fairytale retelling)….
        Basically I need to read more of his short story collections, his Sandman series, and American Gods.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow! You’ve read so much! Well done. I love the idea of being able to say I’ve read 100% of an author’s works. I can’t do it for many, but reading all of Gaiman’s works are on my To Do list. At the rate he is publishing content, however, I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up!

        Do you plan on checking out any of his comics?


  4. I do love this book, I resisted reading it for quite a while – not sure why really, I think I was expecting it to be maybe too young a read but I was very pleasantly surprised. Out of the other books I’ve read by Gaiman I think Neverwhere, Stardust and The Ocean at the End of the Lane are all great – Coraline is also a wonderful story but I actually, strangely enough, think i prefer the film as it’s such a visual feast.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane are definitely going to be my next Gaiman books! I can’t wait!

      I’ve only seen a few parts of the movie Coraline, but I definitely need to rent it now that I’ve read the book.


  5. Neil Gaiman is fantastic writer, I love his work and he’s also a wonderful person. I met him once. And his wife as well! Amazing people, the both of them.
    His writing, in general, is so accessible, especially his books for younger readers. They are so sophisticated and universal that many adults love them as much as children. I haven’t read this book yet, but going by your review and the other books you recommend (2 of which I’ve read and enjoyed, and 1 which I will read this weekend!) I’m sure I’ll like The Graveyard book as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m super jealous you’ve met Neil Gaiman! What an experience that must have been.

      Do you have a favorite Gaiman book? I’ve read this one and Stardust (which I enjoyed even more) and have been contemplating The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neverwhere..

      Did you finish A Monster Calls? I want to know what you think!


  6. Such a good introduction to Gaiman! I love The Graveyard Book so much. I cried for like half and hour when I finished reading it and then just wanted to go right back to page one and start again! If you’re looking to read more Gaiman, may I suggest American Gods? It’s completely different to TGB, but equally fabulous. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s a biggie, I can’t deny that! It’s worth it though. I don’t remember it feeling unnecessarily long when I read it. I got swept up in the story pretty quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with everything you’ve said here! Everyone can (and should) read this! I didn’t pick up on the Jungle Book inspiration either here, but that’s a nice extra to find out afterwards as well innit? The audiobook version was brilliant like every bloody book Nail narrates himself. Ah *swoons*. I’d love to see spin-offs of the graveyard characters as well. I mean, Silas, hello?! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read 5 of his books in total now I think. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was amazing, but I’m afraid I just can’t pick a favourite :’). YES! Or spam Neil with it on his Twitter account >:D

        Liked by 1 person

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