"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
So begins Neil Gaiman's book, an ingenious story of how a community (of ghosts) adopted and raised a boy and taught him everything a young man needs to face the world with confidence and independence. The opaque characters are introduced with their epitaphs.
"And so it went, until it was time for Grammar and Composition with Miss Letitia Borrows, Spinster of the Parish (Who Did No Harm to No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can You Say Lykewise?)."
The toddler wandered into a London graveyard having slipped from his house while he family was being murdered. Since the ghosts didn't know his name they named him Nobody (Bod for short) and his adoptive parents were a childless couple, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a elderly but kindly couple. The other ghosts represented all different times in history dating back to before the Roman occupation. In addition to teaching Bod learn how to read, they were able to teach him special abilities such as Fade which helped him hide in plain sight.
Aside from the touching story of an orphan, there is mystery, action, and a touch of horror when Bod discovers areas of the graveyard not visited by the living in ages. His guardian, Silas, is able to leave the graveyard and procure food and other necessities for Bod. As he said, "It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will...take a graveyard." And this village does just that.
This story will appeal to just about anyone who picks it up. In addition to the wonderful story, illustrations by Dave McKean makes this a true treasure.
My rating for this book: +++++