Farah happened to have a copy of The Graveyard Book in the house (of course she did, she’s listed in the acknowledgments!) so I decided to take a quick look and get some Hugo reading out of the way. The book doesn’t take long to read. There are already people complaining that YA books can’t be as good as adult books because they are “too simple”, or other such nonsense. I touched briefly on this in my review of The Two Pearls of Wisdom, but here the issues are more complicated. Yes, The Graveyard Book is very simple, but to write that simply, elegantly and evocatively takes an awful lot of skill. And, as with all of the best children’s books, this one has plenty of subtleties that an adult reader will appreciate. It is no accident that this book has rave blurbs from Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix and Audrey Niffenegger, or indeed that it won the Newbery Medal. It is absolutely worth its place on the Hugo ballot.
There is one thing, however, that worries me. One chapter of the book features some of my favorite Lovecraftian monsters – Night Gaunts. As every Call of Cthulhu player knows, the defining characteristic of Night Gaunts is that they tickle. And I don’t just mean that they like to do it. Tickling is as intrinsic to Night Gaunts as gamboling is to lambs, or rolling in mud is to hippos. It is in their nature.
Neil’s Night Gaunts do not tickle anyone. And you know, the Wall of Sleep is not very thick at times. Especially when you live in a Gothic mansion. So if you are reading Neil’s Journal and you see him complaining about lack of sleep, you’ll know why.