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Passing through my third-life crisis peacefully in South London, finding out new stuff, and then getting cross and excited about it.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I have just had the pleasure of reading Neil Gaiman's latest children's novel - The Graveyard Book.

Certainly, it draws heavily on The Jungle Book, a debt Gaiman acknowledges in his epilogue. It isn't as narratively complex as his adult books, such as American Gods, nor does it have the scale or grandeur of the Sandman graphic novels.

It is though, enormously satisfying. Its plot is so precise and its characters so well-rounded that at times I forgot I was reading. Gaiman is now so good at his craft that it feels effortless to the reader, a quality he shares with Terry Pratchett on the evidence of the Tiffany Aching novels. I'm certain that this isn't the case - with writing this undramatic, blood and sweat goes into every word used and every word left out.

The plot ends where you expect it to, but with some lovely twists that Gaiman is confident enough not to fully spell out, and without the Disneyfied, saccharine resolutions that other authors feel compelled to give. 

Overall, it is richly deserving of the praise and awards it has attracted, and achieves what I had thought impossible, by offering a worthy follow up to Coraline.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for posting this review - I will get a copy.

    I have often wondered whether Gaiman peaked with Sandman.

    Although Sandman was uneven, and some bits read less well on re-reading (dream vortex?), there were elements of genius (Death; Midsummer Nights Dream) as well as a satisfying and intriguing extension of the DC Universe (one which Vertigo has sadly now let slip).

    After Sandman, I read American Gods, Neverwhere, and Coraline; and whilst there are neat ideas and good dialogue in all these, I just feel they were lacking a certain punch. They seemed workmanlike, and I am not sure I would have read them but for Gaiman's authorship.

    Perhaps this one will change my mind...

    [Last comment posted too soon, so deleted.]

  3. Oh wow. I absolutely loved the Tiffany Aching series by Pratchett. I may be 22 but i may just have to buy this one if your review is anything to go by.


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