The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Coming of Age; Folklore, Legend, and Mythology; Gothic and Horror; Children's Literature
(For a discussion of The Graveyard Book as a novel made up of short stories, check out "Writing Style." See you there!)
The Graveyard Book blends lots of genres together to create its remarkable effect. By setting a classic coming-of-age tale tweens and teens in a graveyard, it is able to both horrify and uplift us. Gaiman draws heavily on legends, myths, and fairytales to create his unique cast of supernatural characters.
Of course, the novel is in the Gothic and horror genres too. Even if we like dead people, the thought of living with a bunch of them is pretty freaky. Gothic literature often features small, enclosed spaces, like coffins and crypts, and include protagonists like Bod who are somehow trapped – physically, mentally, or both. (Edgar Allan Poe is the master of this in stories like “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”) Gothic tales can, but don’t have to, include supernatural parts. This one, obviously, does. Where Gaiman separates from your typical Gothic tale is in his ending. Most gothic stories don’t end well. This one does, though, and Bod is able to shed his Gothic persona and go out into the world.