I have one prevailing thought after finishing The Graveyard book: that Ocean at the End of the Lane should have been given a similar classification. If I had gone in reverse order and read The Graveyard Book first, then American Gods, and then Ocean, I would have been understanding, but a little peeved. Ocean was a shorter book than Graveyard, featured a child protagonist, and had a ton of Narnia-like imagination, yet it was classified as a novel for adults. I can see why Gaiman fans awaiting another American Gods quality book were upset.
But this review isn’t about Ocean, is it? But yet, it is. To truly understand The Graveyard Book is to understand its author, Neil Gaiman. Here is a writer that not only crosses literary genre, but wholeheartedly dives into other story-driven mediums. Gaiman traverses from children’s literature, to adult nightmares, to graphic novels, and even to television episodes. So where does Gaiman land with Graveyard? Somewhere in between.
Though Graveyard has the childhood appeal and similarities of Junglebook, its contents may be best held back for an older crowd. No, there aren’t any scenes of men being swallowed up by a demigod’s vagina (yes, he’s written about that—in detail), nor are there pages containing swear words. However, there is plenty of macabre and some, though limited, violence. In other words, for you parents considering recommending this to your reading child, rest easy that discussions about gender specific body parts won’t be inspired by this book, but you may have to entertain topics regarding home intrusions, murder, and the grisly beyond.
As an adult reading this book, this Graveyard tale inspires Potter themed fun, but stumbles slightly in its lift-off and landing. In other words, the magic and world thereof are a delight, but portions of the story were a little too heavy to carry me into the clouds of giddiness. Seeing the protagonist learn his way about the graveyard, from learning to fade or meeting ghosts, ghouls, witches, and other graveyard inhabitants, I had a lot of fun. But, some of the story snagged on such cumbersome trip-falls as repeated narrative and adult-oriented complexities.
In all, I did enjoy my time with Bod in the Graveyard. Gaiman’s writing is full of imagination and wit. If anything, I would have loved more illustrations and more congruency in the earlier portions of the plot. Everything wraps up nicely in the end, but could have been stretched with a bit more story. If children are old enough to read this and can handle the macabre elements, they will find themselves thoroughly entertained. As an adult, let your imagination relax and enjoy the ride.