The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Since I found Nymeth’s blog last year, I have learned about so many books and authors that were new to me and I am really grateful for that, because otherwise, I would have never discovered such wonderful fantasy books or authors like Susanna Clarke and Neil Gaiman. Often, Nymeth would mention Neil Gaiman’s books and how much she loved them and I must admit that she made me curious. Thus, I decided that it was time to read my first Neil Gaiman book and I have chosen to read The Graveyard Book.

Here are my thoughts on this amazing book:

Nobody Owens’ family was murdered when he was just a toddler and since then, he has been living in a graveyard. Raised and educated by ghosts and a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the dead nor of the living, Nobody (called ‘Bod’ for short), has learned a great deal of things and he has embarked on many engaging adventures in the graveyard. From an ancient Indigo Man and ghouls to the terrible Sleer, Bod has encountered many dangers in the graveyard, but he has also made many friends who have protected him and guided him through the years.

As Bod grows from a toddler into a young man, he befriends people from both the world of the dead and of the living, but he doesn’t quite fit in with either of these worlds. Since the young boy yearns to learn more about the world of the living, he is determined to explore the world outside the graveyard. However, there are many dangers that await him there, including the man Jack, who murdered his family and who still looks for Bod. As he explores both the world of the living and of the dead, the reader witnesses how Bod matures and how in the end, this brave young man learns what it means to be alive.

Inspired by Kipling’s The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book narrates the story of an orphaned boy who, over the course of time, learns so many things about life and ultimately, about himself. As the story evolves, the reader witnesses how Bod changes and matures, and while Bod discovers new things and starts many adventures, we see how he always thirsts for more knowledge and how he becomes more courageous as the story progresses. I really cared deeply about Bod and the other characters and I loved to accompany Bod on his many journeys, including the journey of growing up. Overall, The Graveyard Book is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that is full of kindness, intelligence and surprises! You cannot help but feel touched by this book and you will treasure it like a precious jewel because The Graveyard Book is such a wonderful story that deals with important themes such as courage, risks, change and childhood. Yes, Bod’s story may be a little dark, but Neil Gaiman has accomplished so much with this book! He has narrated a tale that is inventive, warm, suspenseful and educative. The Graveyard Book is one of those books that everybody could read, no matter how old one is as it delivers some strong and important messages to everyone out there. The Graveyard Book teaches the readers that people should dare to take risks and live life to the fullest, as life is too short and we never know when it might come to an end. If we don’t step out of our comfort zone and don’t take certain risks, we might miss out on many wonderful things! Life is hard and there are many dangers out there, but this book teaches us that we have to be brave and believe in ourselves, because in the end, it’s all worth it. Bod sets a perfect example and people can learn so many things from him. Now that he has learned what it means to be alive, Bod is ready to embrace life and enjoy it, with both its good and bad sides. He will make mistakes, meet new people, experience pain, but also joy, as all these things are part of our lives. And if one has not explored the world with all its different facets, one has not lived at all!

Like other readers, I have only one negative thing to say about this book – it’s too short. While reading it, I wanted to learn more about the protagonists, especially Bod’s guardian Silas, Scarlett and Miss Lupescu (I am Romanian / German and although my German is better than my Romanian, I still immediately noticed Miss Lupescu’s name – it’s Romanian and it’s derived from the word ‘wolf’. Also, ‘Lupus’ is Latin for ‘wolf’ and the Romanian language is a Romance language, derived from Latin with 80 % of the Romanian vocabulary being Latin. In addition, on page 211, we find a reference to Miss Lupescu, and we learn that she calls Bod ‘nimeni’, which is again Romanian and means ‘nobody’ in English). Although the book was too short, I found it perfect for me, as it drew me in from page one and it made me think about its themes after I finished reading it. And I love books that make you think and that linger in your mind for a long time! Although I longed for more, I think I know how to satisfy my thirst – I will read more Neil Gaiman books in the future because I just loved The Graveyard Book. If I were to rate it, I would give this book five stars out of five!

Note: I would like to thank Danielle Bartlett from Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read and review such a great book!

Other reviews:

Things Mean A Lot

Booklust

Andreea

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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

I just finished reading The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I discovered this engaging book at Sandy’s blog, You’ve Gotta Read This, and I am glad I did, since I really enjoyed it!

In the year of 1860, three-year-old Saville Kent was found brutally murdered in the outdoor privy of his family’s country estate. Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Jonathan Jack Whicher was called in to lead the investigation. He was one of England’s first detectives and Scotland Yard’s best man, thus everyone hoped he could solve the mystery behind the Road Hill murder. As soon as he began the investigation, Whicher was convinced that someone within the family must be responsible for the crime. However, the public was shocked by his assumption; the idea that such things would happen in respectable middle-class homes terrified everyone.

Nevertheless, people were fascinated by the Road Hill case; it aroused both fear and excitement across England and everyone seemed to know who the murderer was. Everyone had a theory and a suspect; some believed that the father and the nursemaid had committed the crime, while others believed that one of the siblings must be the murderer. There were also people who believed that the murderer could not be a family member.

Whicher became convinced that Constance Kent, Saville’s half-sister, was the murderer. He believed that she was jealous of her little half-brother because he was everybody’s favorite, so she decided to murder him. However, Whicher had little evidence and Constance did not confess, so the case went cold.  The Road Hill case nearly destroyed his career and Whicher retired a few years later. In his later years, he worked as a private detective; eventually, he was vindicated and he appeared in another sensational case.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is an engaging non-fiction book as it deals with a fascinating and true murder case. The book is full of hidden motives, false accusations and dark family secrets and the reader will be eager to find out the truth behind the murder at Road Hill House. In addition, the reader will learn about the history and the origins of detective fiction (you’ll find out that Mr. Whicher inspired characters in fiction such as Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone).

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is an absorbing, well-researched book full of historical details and it draws a fascinating portrait of Victorian families and their exciting lives. I recommend this book to everyone who loves detective stories and to everyone who wants to find out more about the history of detective fiction!

I would like to thank Michelle Blankenship from Bloomsbury – Walker & Co. for sending me a copy of this thrilling book!