Gaiman's Graveyard Book -- spooky, magical retelling of The Jungle Book in a graveyard

Yesterday, I blogged about Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book hitting number one on the New York Times young adult list. Neil read the entire book aloud, a chapter at a time, on his book tour, and uploaded a nightly video, so that when it was done, his reading of the whole book could be viewed for free as a series of video streams.

Coincidentally, I also finished listening to the HarperCollins audio edition of Neil reading The Graveyard Book yesterday, and was overwhelmed with delight at what a wonderful, magical, sweet story this is when it's all done. The Graveyard Book retells the Jungle Book, but instead of an orphan boy lost in the jungle, raised and tormented by animals, the Graveyard Book's orphan, Bod, is orphaned by a serial killer and raised in the graveyard by ghosts (thousands of years' worth -- from pre-Roman to Victorian).

Like the Jungle Book, the Graveyard Book's story takes the form of a series of loosely linked scenarios describing the childhood and coming of age of the orphan boy, in which his mischief and adventures teach him about the world he lives in and what his place in it must be. It's filled with compassion, mystery, wonder, humor (lots and lots and lots of humor), mythology, and a rich, dark, velvety spookiness that makes it especially lovely when read aloud.

Gaiman's reading is, of course, superb. He's part of a very small group of writers who really bring their work to life when they read it aloud (you can hear this for yourself in the videos from the tour). The spooky hurdy-gurdy music on the chapter breaks is also a nice flourish. This is fine work, from beginning to end, and the best bedtime story read-aloud material I've encountered in a long time. Can't wait until my daughter's old enough to read this to. The Graveyard Book audiobook on Amazon The Graveyard Book on Amazon


  1. #2- Debcha:

    In my experience, most people mean “barrel organ” when they say “hurdy-gurdy“, and have little idea of what a hurdy-gurdy sounds like or looks like. The hurdy-gurdy players I know seem to spend a large proportion of their life explaining to strangers what their instrument is, and how it works.

    This is an example of how a hurdy-gurdy really sounds.

  2. I’m confused – does NYT have a “young adult” list? I looked at the best sellers list and didn’t see The Graveyard Book there…

    I only checked because I LOVED The Graveyard Book and was interested to see the competition. I love Gaiman and I think this is one of his most enjoyable and readable works – I’ve been recommending it to all of my friends who can handle spooky. :-)

  3. This book sounds wonderful! I love books dealing with the paranormal. I’ll have to get my wife to order this one.

    I’m just about to finish the third in Koontz’s series, Odd Thomas. To anyone that enjoys lighthearted books dealing with the paranormal, you’ll love this series. There are four books out now, plus a graphic novel.

  4. Just finished the Graveyard Book last night. Fantastic read. Kudos to Mr. Gaiman for another spectacular performance.

    I’m going to read it again. This time to my kids.

    We usually read Bradbury’s Halloween Tree at this time of year. I might be able to sneak both in before the 31st.

  5. Try adding cowbell to the lira organizzata mp3s from Takuan’s link. It’s a sublime match.

    Also, I listened to the whole series of videos. Gaiman is an incredible reader, on par with the better voice actors who read audiobooks. Having the author read his own work felt more personal. I enjoyed it, may buy it, although I don’t really associate with many youngsters so chances are I won’t be spreading much word of mouth.
    I read about two-thirds of American Gods in pdf (not the official format released by his publishers) before finishing it off in hard-copy. Gaiman and Harper-Collins are definitely ahead of the curve on these things.

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