WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Well, unfortunately I have not picked up speed in the reading department. My brain is still too scattered it seems to focus on that. This has to change, and hopefully soon, before my already fragile sanity completely breaks apart, triggering the apocalypse. (Or something equally terrifying like a Spice Girls comes back).
I am still slowly, and sort of surely, making my way through Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. As I mentioned in my previous post, my trouble with getting through it has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story. I quite like this book so far. It is categorized as Middle Grade, making the violent and creepy undertones a little shocking. I shouldn’t be too shocked though, considering one of my favourite books as a child (that I found in my elementary school library) was called Here Lies The Body. Unfortunately, all I remember about that book is that it was damn creepy, and I loved it. Oh, and I learned how to make and use the (possibly made-up) symbol of the devil in order to wreak havoc. Not that I did.
So I finished reading Chapter Three – The Hounds of God, and am currently working on Chapter Four – The Witch’s Headstone. Quite a bit of time has passed between Chapter Two and Three. Bod is now six years old.
What I’ve noticed so far, is that each chapter seems like the beginning of a new story. The end of each chapter even has a bit of closure. For example, at the end of chapter one, Jack left the graveyard, giving up temporarily on his dark mission, with hopes to return to it one day. The end of chapter two saw Bod’s new friend Scarlett saying goodbye.
I mentioned in the previous post that the first line of this book really did it’s job in making me want to read more, it set the dark tone of the story, and told me just a little bit of vital information. Since each chapter so far seems like the beginning of a new story, it is fitting that the first line of each chapter reflects this.
First line, Chapter One: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
First line, Chapter Two: “Bod was a quiet child with sober grey eyes and a mop of tousled, mouse-colored hair.”
First line, Chapter Three: “One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls.”
All three of these examples could conceivably be the beginning of the book, with Chapter Two being the weakest link. I especially like the mystery involved in the first line of the third chapter. It’s impossible to not read on. I want to know about the ghouls. What are they exactly? Why does one grave belong to them and what does it mean? The insinuation is, of course, that there is one of these graves in Bod’s graveyard. I want to know how this will become a part of his story – how he will be impacted by the ghoul’s grave.
The first paragraph is a segue into what I think is the major theme of the chapter: abandonment. The ghoul graves are described as “waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds about it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment”.
Bod was abandoned as a baby, (not intentionally but the result was the same), and is now being raised by ghosts and supernatural creatures. The beginning of the chapter has Silas, mysterious not-alive-not-dead-guy, leaving the graveyard. Silas has become a father-figure to Bod and when he tells Bod that he has to leave, Bod is upset. Weaving yet another mystery, Silas has to leave in order to “obtain some information”. This of course, leads me to wonder what kind of information and for what purpose.
Silas, as mysterious as ever, sets off with his utilitarian bag that is described in a way that reminds me of the “man” himself: “It was closed with a large brass padlock”. Silas is an enigmatic character, and both Bod and myself want nothing more than to open up that bag and expose the secrets within.
With Silas leaving, Bod needs a new guardian. Introducing Miss Lupescu. Miss Lupescu is another strange character and her mannerisms have me wondering if she is like the man Jack: “She got up from her seat and walked all around Bod, nostrils flared, as if she were sniffing him”. She is not immediately likeable, but is a little like the stereotypical strict governess figure. She is there to teach Bod.
Bod is upset by Silas leaving, not only because he feels abandoned, and not only because he likes Silas and doesn’t like Miss Lupescu, but because Silas represents so much more to him than guardianship. Silas is Bod’s connection to the real world – the world outside of the graveyard, the one that he is not allowed to leave because it is not safe to do so. Losing Silas means losing this link, his only reminder that he is still a living boy – separate but connected to humanity.
Miss Lupescu teaches Bod about ghouls, (they apparently come from a place called Gulheim), and sheds a little light on the beings that exist in their world: “the living and the dead, there are day-folk and night-folk, there are ghouls and mist-walkers, there are the high hunters and the Hounds of God. Also, there are the solitary types.” This leaves me wondering where the characters fit in. I’m thinking the man Jack is a mist-walker or a high hunter. Apparently Silas is a solitary type, but this doesn’t tell us much.
Miss Lupescu also teaches Bod how to call for help in every language in the world. This seems rather ominous. Is she preparing him for some terrible event that she knows is going to happen?
I don’t want to give away too much. This chapter holds an interesting revelation about the governess lady, and has definitely left me wanting to read more. Which I will do. Eventually.