The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman sucked me in from the moment I opened the first page and saw those amazing illustrations. I sorely miss the illustrations that used to pepper mid-grade novels. I remember as a kid eagerly reading to the next picture, and then the next…then publishers cut these, and we were mostly left with novels that were solid words. But the illustrations in Gaiman’s book pull you in, wrap around the pages, and add to the wonderful mood. Bravo!
The story, though, is what completely entranced me. Gaiman does an amazing job of saying just enough to creep the reader out. For instance, saying a knife was “wet” instead of describing blood. That really engages your mind. Starting with the most gruesome and terrifying of beginnings ripped from our own nightmares, the author quickly captures our sympathy for Bod, the baby that escaped, and embraces the reader in an almost charming world of ghosts who raise the boy separate from the dangers of the world, until the world intrudes again.
This book feels like an instant classic. Not too scary, but shivery enough for kids. And well-crafted for readers of any age to fall in love with.