Okay, so I started listening to The Graveyard Book on audio, read by the author, yesterday afternoon. I was planning to listen to it for a couple of hours, then stop while I did a few hours of weekend chores, then read one of the three paper books I have on hand before going to bed at a reasonable hour.
It never happened.
Instead, I was enthralled by The Graveyard Book and found I simply could not turn it off. So I did a couple of chores with iPod in hand and earphones on, then stayed up until way past midnight to finish it. When it ended, my first thought was, "I can see why it won that award!" My second thought, that it was over too soon, brought a moment of regret until I remembered it was on my iPod so I could listen to it again (and again and again).
The story opens as a man called Jack, having broken into a house and murdered the man, woman, and little girl who live there, climbs the stairs to the top floor nursery to finish off the job by killing the baby. The baby, whose given name we never learn, is a very precocious 18-month old boy who, having been awakened by a strange sound in the night, has already climbed out of his crib, bumped his way down the stairs, and gone outside to explore the night through the door Jack left open. The baby crawls up the hill to an ancient graveyard, followed closely by the knife-wielding murderer. There, he is taken in by the ghosts of Mister and Mistress Owen, as well as the ghosts of those buried there, along with a mysterious man named Silas who vows to become the child's guardian and protect him.
I loved the story, the characters, the fascinating worlds of the graveyard and beyond, and the voice of Gaiman as he told about Nobody Owens (called Bod) and his strange "family" of ghosts and goblins and other strange creatures. Providing as footnotes the dates of birth and death and epitaph of the ghosts as they were introduced was, strangely enough, a charming touch. It was funny, poignant, scary, and exciting in turn, delivered up by the clever pen of one of the most deservedly popular authors around today.