Coraline , this gothic fantasy almost lives up to its extravagant advance billing. The opening is enthralli"/>

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman, Author, Dave McKean, Illustrator , illus. by Dave McKean. HarperCollins $17.99 (312p) ISBN 978-0-06-053092-1

A lavish middle-grade novel, Gaiman's first since Coraline , this gothic fantasy almost lives up to its extravagant advance billing. The opening is enthralling: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” Evading the murderer who kills the rest of his family, a child roughly 18 months old climbs out of his crib, bumps his bottom down a steep stairway, walks out the open door and crosses the street into the cemetery opposite, where ghosts take him in. What mystery/horror/suspense reader could stop here, especially with Gaiman's talent for storytelling? The author riffs on the Jungle Book , folklore, nursery rhymes and history; he tosses in werewolves and hints at vampires—and he makes these figures seem like metaphors for transitions in childhood and youth. As the boy, called Nobody or Bod, grows up, the killer still stalking him, there are slack moments and some repetition—not enough to spoil a reader's pleasure, but noticeable all the same. When the chilling moments do come, they are as genuinely frightening as only Gaiman can make them, and redeem any shortcomings. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/29/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-7475-9684-4
Hardcover - 312 pages - 978-0-7475-9683-7
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7475-6901-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-170739-1
Prebound-Glued - 312 pages - 978-1-60686-823-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0760-4
Hardcover - 295 pages - 978-4-04-791634-0
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-0-06-208155-1
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-957-33-2574-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-170741-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4361-5879-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4361-5884-8
Hardcover - 373 pages - 978-1-4104-1441-0
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-197265-2
Prebound-Sewn - 320 pages - 978-0-606-14883-2
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-84-9918-146-2
Library Binding - 312 pages - 978-0-06-053093-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-155189-5
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