|The Finnish translation's cover|
The story begins with a scene in which a man named "Jack" kills a family, but their toddler manages to escape to the graveyard close by. The toddler is found and rescued by ghosts. He does not speak yet and hence has no name. The ghosts decide to call him Nobody. It is clear that the toddler is very important for some reason. The story of the boy Nobody and his family opens up slowly during the novel. Strong themes in this novel are loneliness and personal growth.
The Graveyard Book is categorized as a fantasy novel for children. I agree that children and teenagers are clearly the target audience, which is a slightly younger audience than what many other novels by Gaiman have. As an example I could mention Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series The Sandman and the novel Anansi Boys. It's been years since I read that one, but I have this faint memory that if considering ethics and who is evil and who is not, Anansi Boys was a lot more 'gray area' than The Graveyard Book. Which is great like that, since in Anansi Boys the characters are adults but in The Graveyard Book the main character is a boy growing up from being a helpless toddler to a youngster. The narration kind of leans towards the cognitive skills of a young boy, without being infantile.
The illustrations in this Gaiman's novel are made my Dave McKean, who has illustrated many other goth-y stories and books too. One featured before in this blog is The homecoming by Ray Bradbury. If you check that post out, you'll notice that in The homecoming the illustrations are more tightly knitted to the text than in The Graveyard Book.
I really liked The Graveyard Book. The plot structure was a mix of a growth story and a swashbuckler or an adventure story. They are both rather predictable plot structures but the novel was still very enjoyable and did not use any really stereotypical cliches. Strongly recommend!