‘Death, is only the beginning…’

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme being hosted by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite books covers.  The rules are fairly simple and can be found here.  Each week, following a predetermined theme choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.  Simples.  This week the theme is:

Dead Men Tell No Tales

A cover which features something or somewhere relating to death

This week I’ve gone for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and a whole bunch of covers to choose from:

So, from the top-

  1. Very creepy cover with the two characters
  2. Not sure about this one – bloody knife with a little toddler running along the edge – I understand why – ‘there was a hand in the darkness… and it held a knife’ – very creepy though
  3. I really like this one – the whole floating graveyard!
  4. I really like the simplicity of this cover and the angel gravestone
  5. This is beautifully illustrated, I admit this cover originally made me think this was a children’s book but I really like it now.
  6. This is the version I own – and I do love it – plus it’s signed!

My favourite this week is difficult to choose but I think I would probably go with this one:

GYB4

Next week’s theme:

Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

A cover which features a road

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Just finished reading the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  Before I put one more thing down I must firstly say that I adored this book and I think I now love Neil Gaiman.  Not that I’m about to turn into a bunny boiler or start stalking him – no, I will love him from afar and show my love by reading all his books and annoying the hell out of everyone about how good they are!  Simples.  This man is brilliant.  His writing is so damned easy to read and his imagination is unbelievable.  Yet again I wonder what took me this long to pick up this book.  For starters it’s based in a graveyard – and I actually like graveyards, I don’t know if that’s a bit creepy but there it is.  It’s also based firmly in the land of make believe which I love to read about.  I think to be honest I didn’t pick this up because it’s a children’s book.  I haven’t got anything against children’s books, I’ve certainly read enough over the course of time, but sometimes they can be just too ‘young’ in the way they’re written.  This book isn’t like that.  The writing is a joy to read, the graveyard and the ghosts practically come off the page and, almost in the style of children’s animated films, there is definitely some more subtle adult humour and areas that I don’t think children would pick up on – for example Silas?  So, in that respect it has something for a more rounded audience.  Anyway, who am I kidding, I love Harry Potter and the Pullman Trilogy – and I’m pretty sure they’re children’s books!

Anyway, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.  The Graveyard Book starts off with a heinous murder, almost an entire family killed in their home by a sinister and dark man.  Only one survivor, a toddler, who unwittingly, and as a result of the curious nature of one that age, has crawled out the front door – which was oddly left open.  This little child manages to toddle along to the local cemetery at the top of the hill  and in doing so unwittingly finds a strange bunch of unlikely saviours.  The ghosts of the cemetery come to his aid and grant him their protection and the freedom of the graveyard.  However, although the ghosts who adopt him together with the strange darkly clad man who acts as his guardian, do their best to protect him – the murderer is still at large and won’t be happy until he’s finished the job!  For the next few years this will be the boy’s home and henceforth he shall be called ‘Nobody’,  Nobody Owens, although to his friends, family and readers he will become known simply as Bod.

Basically, this is a coming of age book and given that Gaiman, in his acknowledgements, praises Rudyard’s Jungle Book as one of his favourite childhood books the inevitable comparisons I suppose are to be expected.  We basically have a young boy, homeless and without family being adopted and brought up in unconventional surroundings and with a family of a different nature.  This is only a short book and so we only spend short paragraphs with Bod at various stages of his life but all of them are pertinent to the tale, all of them are really enjoyable and unfortunately – all of them end too soon!  I think it’s great to see Bod as he moves through his childhood.  He’s an inquisitive toddler, as he becomes a little older he loves his family and the wealth of friends he has in the cemetery, then he becomes a little more difficult to manage and quick to annoy as he moves into his teenage years until finally he has really outgrown the confines placed upon him.  And, it’s at this point that things become a bit more dark and the murderer returns to the scene.

I really loved Bod.  He’s such a great character.  He’s innocent and he’s good and kind.  He’s brought up in this totally strange environment but as it’s all he’s ever known it’s all perfectly natural to him.  Gaiman also manages to introduce other characters who are great to read.  We obviously have all the graveyard ghosts who we briefly touch upon including Bod’s adopted parents, The Owens.  We even have a ghost dating back to Roman times and all of this gives Bod a rather more in depth knowledge of history than most people – a fact that becomes a little obvious when he joins school.  We have the witch Eliza – who had a great time relating her own story, also the rather, at first, stern Miss Lupescu who occasionally stands in as Bod’s guardian and of course we have Silas – Bod’s full time guardian.  Very mysterious and dark, a little sad but a great protector of  Bod throughout the story.

On top of this there is just this wonderful array of short stories included in Bod’s growing up, for example the Chapter headed ‘The Hounds of God’ which brings to us the Ghouls Gate or the chapter in which Bod makes a new friend and introduces her to ‘the barrow’ or more to the point the mysterious creature that lives beneath!!  I don’t want to give anything away here but even the Order that the murderer belongs to is such a great take.

Anyway, clearly I enjoyed this book very much.  Throughout it put me in mind of so many enjoyable reading experiences whilst not actually appearing to be like any particular one.  For example, the friendship between Bod and Scarlett for some reason brought Pip and Estelle to mind from Great Expectations.  I also had thoughts of the Labyrinthe – not that the book is like that, or Great Expectations for that matter – just that it made me think back to those particular reads.  I really enjoyed when the ghouls were travelling with Bod and carrying him and throwing him from ghoul to ghoul as they travelled – very reminiscent and a sort of homage to the scene in the film Jungle Book where Mowgli is being passed through the tree tops by the apes.

So, well written, funny, creepy and sometimes even a little sad.  Good characters, a little bit hair raising (just in a couple of parts) and overall downright enjoyable.  What’s not to love?

Read it.

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book