The Graveyard Book was easily one of my favourite books back in 2008 when I read it for the first time, then again when I listened to the wonderful audiobook, narrated by the author, Neil Gaiman, a few months later.
So taking part in Carl’s read-along for R.I.P. VII was always a given. This week we are discussing chapters 4-6. You can see my thoughts on the first three chapters in my previous post, or visit Carl’s post at Stainless Steel Droppings, to see everybody else’s discussion posts this week.
Even though I’ve loved listening to Neil read the book again this week, I’ve struggled to find the time to listen properly, which is why my post is a few days late…
The chapters this week are among my favourite in the book. We really start to get a feel for who Bod is, as he starts to grow.
- The Witches’ Headstone
- Danse Macabre
- Nobody Owens’ School Days
We start out with The Witches’ Headstone where Bod learns of certain residents of the graveyard, that his family and friends would prefer him to ignore. Those that are buried over the fence in the unconsecrated ground of the Potter’s field.
But being the inquisitive soul that he is, he soon heads over there and eventually meets Liza Hemstock, a young girl who was burned for being a witch, when Bod hurts his leg, Liza helps him.
Bod wants to repay that help, by getting Liza a headstone, which means he has to leave the graveyard for the first time, and he soon finds himself in deep trouble, his new friend and himself need to work together to escape.
Despite the danger he found himself in, and what it could mean for the future, Bod knows he made a mistake, but for the right reasons. I think Bod thinks it was worth it.
Danse Macabre, is probably the most fun chapter in the book, as the chapter starts out for Bod, the people in the graveyard (it’s weird, I should really call them ghosts, but it somehow feels wrong to do so, even though that is what they are!) are acting really strangely, preparing for something the only allude to, but never explain. All singing little tunes about ‘The Macabre’
Bod is unable to get straight answer out of any one, even to some extent Silas (although part of that is to do with Silas’ lack of experience of the events.)
Eventually, Bod discovers The Macabre is a dance which takes place in the old town and that the living and the dead take part. Bod gets to dance with Liza and The Lady on the Horse, who promises that one day he’ll get his ride on the horse. One day, but not today…
The following day, the graveyard folk as reluctant to discuss the events again.
In-between this chapter and the next is an Interlude where we get to some of what The Man Jack (the man who murdered Bod’s family) is up to and his fellow members of The Convocation, a shadowy organisation who aren’t looking too happy with Jack’s failure to complete his task….
In Nobody Owens’ School Days, once again, Bod makes a decision that causes trouble for him now and possibly more trouble in the future, but again, I get the feeling that Bod thinks it was worth it. Sometimes you have to do the right thing.
Like not looking the other way, when those less able to protect themselves are being bullied, we also get a hint about just how far Bod is prepared to go, to punish those who deserve it. A character trait we will come back too as the story reaches its climax.
All the chapters in the book are in someway about growth, but I think that as I said at the start of the post, that it is these three chapters are a lot about Bod becoming his own person, with his own values and character traits, even if that means making poor choices for the right reasons, and going against those he loves and trust to normally guide him.
We now head in to the last two chapters of the book, which are every bit as good as what has gone before, but I know that I’ll there’ll be a slight sense of melancholy when the story is over.
Don’t forget to visit Carl’s post at Stainless Steel Droppings, to see everybody else’s discussion posts this week.