Book cover
The Graveyard Book isn't a horror novel, but it is absolutely goth and macabre. The story follows a boy from 18 months old when his whole family is murdered and he wanders off into the night through his childhood as he is raised in a graveyard by two ghosts and a vampire as guardian (who supplies physical things, like food and clothes).  At one point, we meet a werewolf and ghouls as well.

We never learn the boy's birth-name, so the ghosts of the graveyard named him Nobody, which gets shortened to Bod.  As an accepted member of the graveyard, Bod gets to use many powers of the dead - but only in the graveyard.

The story is paced very well, and the chapters are also individual stories that make the book easy to pick back up.  Yet, I found it compelling enough that I read the whole thing in two sittings (and within 24 hours).

Young adult books are absolutely best when they don't feel like books written for a teenage audience, and this book fits right in there.  There is light romance, a lot of death (not just the already dead) and a whole lot of action.

I didn't realize until organizing my thoughts for this review: This book has a lot of parallels with Harry Potter.  Anyone who has moral issues with the Harry Potter series would probably have the same problems with this book.  Also, being raised by those who are already dead, Bod has a bit of a different morality about death itself.  That is, I can totally see some folks thinking that this book might not be suitable for their children.

To me, though, the moral ambiguity and the very different magic of the dead made this book feel like an introduction to a whole new, very believable universe.  For that, I definitely recommend this book.  It also makes a really great Halloween read (I read this book and wrote the first draft of this review just after Halloween, 2018).

The Graveyard Book
Young Adult Fantasy
Harper Collins
Released: 30 September 2008
Paperback, 368 pages