The Graveyeard book readalong


Chapters 7-8
Every Man Jack
Leavings and Partings

In the seventh chapter Bod is now fourteen. He has to confront the organization which murdered his family. Silas has been away for a few months and the ghosts are afraid that he’s not going to return. Therefore Bod has to deal with everything. I was really impressed that Bod didn’t kill anyone (because revenge killing seem to be very common in fantasy these days) but he did send them to horrible fates.

The chapter is almost as much about Scarlett as it’s about Bod. Scartlett’s parents divorced and Scarlett’s mother brings them back to Bod’s city. We see Scarlett’s life; she’s a pretty normal self centered teenager. On retrospect, it was obvious that Mr. Frost was Jack but while reading it, I assumed Jack to be a high-paid assassin with weird powers and someone like that wouldn’t have time to stake out just one place.

I also really liked the small snippets about Silas’ and Miss Lupescus’ quest.

The Jacks turn out to be stranger than I thought. Great! And a great chapter!

Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the final chapter. Bod didn’t choose to leave, he was, essentially, booted out when his skills and powers just fade, when he ages. Silas finally shows a lot of classic vampire traits: he doesn’t have a reflection in a mirror and he sleeps on home soil when he’s away from home – and the cemetery isn’t his home. That last one was a surprise.

Overall, I liked the book a lot but the last chapter soured it a bit.

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Chapters 4-6:

The Witch’s Headstone
Danse Macabre
Interlude: The Convocation
Nobody Owens’ School Days

These chapters focus on Bod growing up and being curious about the world outside his home, the cemetery. He longs for the company of live people and even defy his new family’s wishes to get it.

In the interlude and the sixth chapter, the mystery around Bod deepens. In the previous chapter, the Interlude, we see the man Jack with a group of apparently powerful and influential men. And Gaiman specifically says that they are all males, no women involved. This makes them more sinister because traditionally, in thrillers and mystery stories (I’m thinking of specifically of X-Files because I rewatched them recently) it’s groups of men who are manipulators and up to no good. And these people want Bod dead because of something in San Francisco. Because we’ve seen Bod do things just because it’s the right thing to do, we know that these people must be evil.

Anyway, in the sixth chapter Silas tells us that the man Jack is still after Bod and will not rest until Bod is dead. I love Bod’s answer: So what. All of my best friends are dead. 🙂

Like all of the others, I love the reversal; most of the living people we meet are mean while the dead are good. Apparently, the dead have also raised Bod better than many other parents because in the Witch’s Headstone and Nobody Owens’ School Days, Bod does things just because they are the right things to do and puts himself into danger both times, without expecting any reward to himself.

I’m going to be hugely surprised if Silas doesn’t turn out to be a vampire. Albeit a sideways vampire, the same way that Miss Lupescu was a twist on the werewolf. According the people on the other cemetery, Silas is a guardian of some sort.

This part reminded me a lot about Sandman. The Dance Macabre feels like a folk tale the same way that many of the Sandman issues use myths. The witch Liza is also somewhat similar to the quirky women character in Sandman. (I’m a huge fan of Sandman so that a definite plus.)

I’m looking forward to finding out how it all ties together.

Chapters 1-3:
How Nobody Came to the Graveyard
The New Friend
The Hounds of God

I’m reading the Finnish translation of the Graveyard Book which has Dave McKeane’s illustrations. I have to admit that that beginning is very effective. The first page has just the headline and the first line: ”There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” And an illustration of an arm extended with the knife. It’s quite scary for a children’s book. Gaiman also deals with very dark matters from the start: not just imaginary, fantasy scary stuff but a hitman who kills a whole family. A real world scary. At first, when Jack was looking for the infant I was afraid for him, but when the boy came to the graveyard, I realized of course that he is Nobody and that Jack wasn’t going to get him. I rather enjoyed the quirky dead characters and that they are from different eras. I’m certain this isn’t the last time we’ll see Jack.

The beginning is very effective and grabbed me immediately.

The next chapter, The New Friend, introduces Scarlett Amber Perkins and we find out more about how a little boy lives in a graveyard. Like Bod, Silas is an honorary dead (although Silas is dead) and he’s able to leave the cemetery. The other dead can’t do that. So Silas goes out and gets food and books for Bod. The other dead can’t touch anything, but Silas clearly can. He not only gets food for Bod but it’s mentioned in the next chapter that Silas buys it, so he can even interact with the living. Just who is he?

Scarlett’s a curious five-year-old girl and she makes Bod question a few things about his home. We also get to see Bod’s invisibility in action; as an honorary dead he can make people see him only when he wants them to see him.

Bod takes Scarlett to the oldest grave on the graveyard, under the hill. That scene was pretty scary to me and both kids showed a lot of courage for not running away. I’m sure the hill will feature again in the book. Bod seems very lonely and it’s sad that Scarlett leaves. I have a feeling that either we won’t see Scarlett again or we’ll see her when she’s significantly older.

In The Hounds of God, for the first time Bod has to deal with not getting what he wants and having his orderly world changed. His caretaker Silas goes away for a while and has hired another to teach and feed Bod. Not surprisingly, Bod is angry and all angsty about it. To be fair, he’s only six years old.

This is another very scary chapter. However, I did guess who miss Lupescu is the moment I saw her name.

So far I’ve enjoyed the book and the third chapter especially was very imaginative.

Carl at the Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting a read-a-long of Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book.

Begin reading anytime between immediately and October 1st.

Read Chapters 1-3:

How Nobody Came to the Graveyard
The New Friend
The Hounds of God

from October 1st through October 6th. Post your thoughts on these chapters on Sunday, October 7th.

Read Chapters 4-6:

The Witch’s Headstone
Danse Macabre
Interlude: The Convocation
Nobody Owens’ School Days

from October 8th through October 13th. Post your thoughts on these chapters on Sunday, October 14th.

Read Chapters 7-8:

Every Man Jack
Leavings and Partings

from October 14th through October 20th. Post your thoughts on these final chapters/the book on Sunday, October 20th.

I haven’t read the book before and, frankly, I’ve been discouraged because it’s a YA and overall I’ve always liked Gaiman’s comics and short stories more than his books. Hopefully, the book will be good.