This is the story of Nobody Owens, who as a baby crawls out of his crib and make his way to the nearby graveyard one night and thereby narrowly escapes sure death as his parents and sister are murdered by the sinister Man Jack. The graveyard is ancient and abandoned, but is nonetheless teeming with life (so to speak), since the ghosts of all those who were buried there throughout the centuries and millennia rise from their tombs and socialize with each other come night-time. Almost as soon as he arrives there, Baby Bod (short for Nobody) is adopted by the Owens, who in life never managed to have children of their own, and the couple positively dote on the boy. As the only live inhabitant of the cemetery, he is given the run of the place and soon befriends most of the spirits he comes across. Bod grows up to be a curious, smart, and thoughtful boy. When he meets a woman accused of witchcraft who has long been buried in an unmarked grave outside the consecrated grounds, he risks breaking the supreme rule of never crossing the graveyard gates to go pawn a treasure so he can get her a headstone bearing her name—and gets into a whole lot of trouble in the process. When he eventually convinces his caretakers to let him go to school, he confront the class bullies and terrorizes them into leaving their hapless victims alone by using tricks he has learned from his graveyard companions.
I found it impossible not to like Bod, and was cheering him on throughout this wickedly fun and clever tale, filled with adventure and peopled with a cast of eccentrics and weirdos. This was my first Neil Gaiman book and my only problem with it is that it eventually had to end. I got the audiobook version which is narrated by Gaiman himself, and I would heartily recommend it even to someone who doesn’t normally listen to audiobooks, as Gaiman’s brilliant narration, with his English accent and deep expressive voice greatly added to the overall experience. This one is going into my limited all-time favourites collection, and I already look forward to listening to it all over again.