Nobody Owens was a toddler when The Man Jack broke into his home and murdered his family. Young "Bod" survived because he wandered away from his home and into a nearby graveyard where the ghosts of the graveyard raised and protected him.
Neil Gaiman's 2008 novel The Graveyard Book tells Bod's story as he grows from a child to a teenager. The first chapter are a series of loosely-connected short stories, set about 2 years apart, relating Bod's encounters with the various ghosts and spirits of the graveyard and (occasionally) the living people of the nearby town. But, in the climax, the stories circle back on themselves: A childhood friend moves away, then returns as a teenager; an ancient guardian re-surfaces; and the Man Jack eventually returns to finish the job he failed to complete years earlier.
Gaiman proves again that he is a master storyteller. He takes some classic horror story ideas - ghosts, malevolent spirits, secret societies, werewolves - and breathes something fresh into them. Bod's mentor - the reformed vampire Silas - is an excellent example.
Graveyard is a coming-of-age story for a boy with an unusual childhood. Gaiman was inspired by Kipling's Mowgli and by the sight of Gaiman's own toddler riding a tricycle through a graveyard.
This is a dark, macabre tale; but it is filled with hope. It is aimed at young adults, but kids of any age will enjoy it.
This was my third visit to this story, as I have read the 2-part graphic novel adaptation; and a short story in the "M Is for Magic" collection. And each time, I come away with a new appreciation for Neil Gaiman and his imagination.