You are probably familiar with the illustrator's other works especially the ones in which Neil Gaiman has also been participating. Dave McKean has for example made the cover for Neil Gaiman's Coraline, and McKean has directed MirrorMask (screenplay by Gaiman) and he has made a lot of art (covers, illustrations and so on) for Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels. He was also a concept artist in two Harry Potter movies.
The main character of The homecoming is a 10-year-old Timothy, who is the only human member of a family of ghouls. It is All Hallows' Eve and all the creepy and odd family members are coming to celebrate together at the home of Timothy's parents. The story is about a heartbreaking situation of a little boy, longing to belong but realizing his own difference. I really like this set-up, because usually goth-y stories are about the spooky one (a teenage werewolf or a vampire), who is different in the creepy and alluring way the readers would like to be themselves.
Many goths and other darkly inclined people like mythical horror creatures and would like them to be true. In The homecoming those creatures are true but the poor protagonist still can't be completely included into the creatures' dark world or to really take part in all the activities of the huge party on All Hallows' Eve. He is not even sure if he really wants to be exactly like others. Though Timothy loves his family, his little pounding heart allows him to see the sun, which he loves too.
This short story reminds us that you can't have everything you want and more importantly, all things you want are not good for you.
Another big theme beside the theme of "not belonging" is death. The story is also about Timothy realizing his own mortality in a family of ghouls. His blood circulation is the sign of life and also of the inevitable death. By accepting his fundamental difference, Timothy can come in terms with his own mortality and even more importantly, by accepting his own mortality, which makes him different, he can also belong. With the mortality Timothy also finds that part of himself that is same with the other family members and allows him to participate to ghoulish life, even if just for a fleeting moment.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope some of you get inspired and if you see The homecoming somewhere, you'll grab it and read it!