When I wrote up Fragile Things , a collection of (mostly) ghost stories by Neil Gaiman, I was highly meh, and mentioned that Gaiman’s recent work didn’t seem to be hitting the mark for me. So it was with low expectations that I picked up Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book . Not only is it a ghost story, but it’s also illustrated by the overhyped-and-underwhelming Dave McKean. It seemed destined to either irritate or bore me.
But in fact, it did neither. I can safely say that this is some of the best work Gaiman’s done in a long while. Unlike so much of his recent work, it doesn’t feel like it’s being done by a second-rate Gaiman impersonator, but instead feels fresh and interesting and has its own voice.
Okay, if we’re to quibble, there’s one element of it that’s highly reminiscent of Neverwhere, but leaving that aside, it’s just a very good book. Increasingly, I’m of the opinion that — leaving Sandman aside — Gaiman is best at short or light work. Stardust, Anansi Boys, and this are really among his best works, and not one of them tries for the epic.
Oh, and the Dave McKean art is perfectly serviceable and forgettable art that mostly serves to decorate a few pages in an inoffensive way, so that’s about as much as can be hoped for on that front.