The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave McKean
HarperCollins, New York, 2008
One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that it is made up of many stories, stories of Nobody Owen, growing up, protected and loved by ghosts and other beings that pass between worlds.
We learn a bit more about his guardian Silas, and Bod learns a bit more about the place where he lives. He meets the ghost of a lovely young witch and tries to do something kind for her. Leaving the Graveyard for the first time since his arrival he runs into trouble. Maybe the world of the living, outside of the Graveyard fence, is not the best place for a live boy with a kind heart. But on rare occasions ghosts visit there, and sometimes the living dance with the dead.
They took hands, the living with the dead, and they began to dance. Bod saw Mother Slaughter dancing with the man in the turban, while the businessman was dancing with Louisa Bartleby. Mistress Owens smiled at Bod as she took the hand of the old newspaper seller, and Mr. Owens reached out and took the hand of a small girl as if she had been waiting to dance with him her whole life. Then Bod stopped looking because someone’s hand closed around his, and the dance began.
Liza Hempstock grinned at him. “This is fine,” she said, as they began to tread the steps of the dance together.
Then she sand, to the tune of the dance,
“Step and turn, and walk and stay,
Now we dance the Macabray.” From page 159.
During the interlude we discover that the Man Jack needs to finish what he started.
Bod learns to fade and to haunt. And craving knowledge of the world of the living, he goes to school.
Gaiman has a way about him. A way of mixing life and death and giving grace to both. Bod’s story is lovely and sad and joyful all at the same time, and oh so gentle, even at it’s most horrific. I don’t know how this author does it. It is a mystery, eerie and beautiful.