Penned by perennial dark fantasy writing, man-in-black-wearing, English-accented Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book is in the same vein as The Jungle Book, but, as you can imagine, takes place in a graveyard inhabited by ghosts of varying degrees and personalities.
The main character is Nobody Owens – orphaned while he was a baby and guardianed by the graveyard ghosts – who experiences a series of trials and tribulations that shape him as he grows older. Yet there is an evil that hunts Bod, as they call him, and will not rest until he is made as dead as those with whom he lives.
Gaiman does a fantastic job of balancing the story with bits of action, emotion, dark overtones, and the thoughts of a young boy growing up in a graveyard of ghosts. The Graveyard Book does not believe it is anymore than what it is – a turn-paging romp with fun and diverse characters.
There is one scene in particular that makes you yearn for it to be an annual October festivity: the Danse Macabre.
This happening occurs one night a year and allows the dead to leave the graveyard and convene in the town square where music, laughter, and dancing ensues. It is the kind of event that I wish would occur on the scale of Thanksgiving and Christmas parades and festivals that seem to inundate every small town. It would add a layer of fantasy and mystique to Halloween – not to mention another excuse to commit inebriated revelry.
And it also adds another layer to the 15 Days of Halloween.