For the second installment of The Graveyard Book read along, chapters 4-6 (which includes a short interlude) were read. If you are just joining us, Part I can be found HERE.
Let me start off by thanking Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this read along. He has several fun reading events going on this month, so make sure to check out his site.
These few chapters see our main character, Nobody (Bod) Owens, grow from a child to a youngling on the cusp of adulthood. One of the things I truly enjoy about Neil Gaiman‘s writings is his ability to weave mythology and lore into everyday experiences. He does that beautifully in the chapter concerning the Danse Macabre, where the living and the dead enjoy a few hours of unfettered dancing in the streets.
In Chapter 4, The Witch’s Headstone, we meet Liza Hempstock (I love Gaiman’s character names!), who was droned and burned to charcoal and buried and a witch in unconsecrated ground. Turns out she is a little bit of a witch, and it is good that she and Bod get to be friends. Bod finds it a bit sad that she lacks a headstone and so he sets out to get her one, taking many chances and breaking even more rules. He steals from the Sleether (see Part I) and tries to sell the item to a shady type who locks him in a back room while he decides what to do. Bod is eventually saved and returns to the graveyard, where he makes a touching gesture to Liza. Humanity counts whether you are dead or alive. What did you all think about Abanazer Bolger’s connection to Jack?
The Danse Macabre I alluded to above is Chapter 5. I found this chapter to be full of mystery and beauty. I loved the idea of tradition pushing the living into participating, and the simplicity of the not-very-often blooming white flowers. Even though this is my second read through, I still didn’t understand why the ghosts and even Silas at the end of the chapter, after the dance is all said and done, won’t talk about it. We already had plenty of mystery surrounding the dance, like why the flowers, where was the music coming from, and why did the ghosts spiffy up their ghostly habitations if the dance took place in town? Why add the mystery of not talking about it?
Jack, Jack, Jack…..Sigh… what a vicious mystery you are. In the interlude Convocation, we get a few hints about Jack. Perhaps he is well funded. Perhaps he is just one of a group of trained or specialized killers. Reading this little section makes me worry for Bod Owens.
In Chapter 6, Nobody Owens’ School Days, Bod gets to go to class. He wants to learn, not just book learning, but about being alive. Silas, his guardian, warns him to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, Bod has a hard time doing that for very long because there are bullies. Pretty soon he has not only the ill-intention of the bullies focused on him, but also the once-bullied younger kids pointing him out. Things start to get out of hand when the police get involved. However, Bod learns some important skills, like putting on The Fear and Dreamwalking. At this point in the book, Bod is 11 and he is asking questions about why he has to keep a low profile and why his family was killed and who this killer Jack is and why Jack still wants him dead. And Bod receives no answers. I feel Bod’s frustration! I want answers too. But I also feel that Bod deserves the truth of the matter at this point. He’s old enough to ask the question and understand the bulk of the answer. And I believe that Bod is starting to make choices that could endanger him greatly because he is kept ignorant.
So that’s the sum up. What stuck out for you?
Did you get the Danse Macabre chapter?
Do you think Bod’s Haunting of the school bullies was just a teensy vicious?
What is up with Jack and his business card?