Here he lyes in the certainty of the moft glorious refurrection

In Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a toddler, escaped from an assassin sent to murder his family, finds safety in a graveyard. He grows up among the dead and the undead, with ghosts as parents, a vampire guardian, and a witch as friend. Beneath the graveyard lie older evils, and in the outside world the assassin is still searching.

It’s a children’s book, and, like all good children’s books, it works even better as an adult’s book.

Some people believe you should protect kids from the morbid, because it will scar their fragile minds. These people have clearly forgotten what it was like. Morbid books take kids seriously, they don’t lie.

Gaiman’s novels sometimes feel too neatly plotted. Events fit precisely together, like the output of a plot machine. Anansi Boys had that problem. The Graveyard Book has some of it, especially when the main plot is wrapped up. What works best here is the mood and the theme: The graveyard and the boy.

The movie version of Coraline, Gaiman’s previous children’s book, is due out in February. If it does well, The Graveyard Book is visual and short enough to make a natural followup. (But please leave American Gods alone.)

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