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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Posted by RB Kollannur on July 15, 2012


Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 23/03/2012

Book: The Graveyard Book; Author: Neil Gaiman; Publisher – HarperCollins; Pages – 312; Cost – Rs 465; Purchased from Reliance Timeout.

Nobody Owens was an unusual child. For you see ever since he was the littlest of infants he had been living with a pack of ghosts in a dark abandoned graveyard. Fortunately for him though, these ghosts were not bent on scaring the living daylights out of the little boy. Instead they fed him, clothed him, gave him shelter and even send him to school. But while he was safe as at home in the graveyard, outside it lurked an evil set out to destroy him. The man Jack had killed off his family when he was very little and was now looking to finish him off as well.

Many of us grew up seeing the adventures of Mowgli who grew up among a pack of wolves. While the cartoon that used to air on Doordarshan in the nineties was based on a Japanese manga, the original story by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book, has captured many an imaginative mind. Written by the acclaimed fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book is meant to be an allusion to the children’s classic.

The author of the Sandman series of graphic novels weaves a masterful tale that evokes the memory of the original Jungle Book. But to this he adds his own blend of dark twists. Set in contemporary England, the life of Nobody Owens mirrors that of Mowgli in many ways. But, Gaiman recreates the villains with a darker tone. So, gone are the crazy monkeys that entrap Mowgli. In their place there are demented ghouls set out to eat Nobody Owens. Nobody, Bod for short, has to deal with many supernatural beings in his young existence; many out to kill him, while many to help him.

Gaiman brings to fore his extraordinary workmanship to create characters that can raise the imagination of a child. He also shows how not let your own rules come in way of your imagination. In one sequence, he breaks away from the general rule in the book which separates the ghostly world from the living world and creates an amusing yet eventful short story.

There used to be a time when The Jungle Book would have satisfied many a child. But in these days of magical lore and Pottermania, a child would need a story book that can recreate that enchantment. In that sense, The Graveyard Book becomes a deliciously enchanting children’s book, but still perfect for all ages.

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One Response to “The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman”

  1. […]  God Save the Dork  by Sidin Vadukut – Published on 13/02/2012 2)    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Published on 23/02/2012 3)    From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple – Published on […]

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