Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2018
This is my 3rd Gaiman: I've finished "American Gods" and "Norse Mythology". And I would have the same review of his work for each so far.
Gaiman is an extraordinary, a gifted wordsmith. His sentences are beautiful - really, read them aloud. He is a master of tone and of place. He is an efficient writer, and there are not many of them around, at least in F&SF. But...
But he is a poor story teller. His fascinating characters shuffle around, and they learn a technique or two, and they experience, and they try to learn some more. But they never have significant interactions that create conflict and resolution, and thus a sense of satisfaction at the end of his tales. And they NEED that because everything about his work is mythic, fundamental, playful in the depths of us all. There are lessons you have to teach us, Gaiman, and there are lessons we have to learn from you. You must not remain aloof from the drama of humanness, buddy.
And so here, in "The Graveyard Book," we have the sudden realization from Gaiman somewhere around the two-thirds mark that, maybe, he'd better get moving and try to find some ending so he can call it a day and have a beer. He has to bring back a character from early on just for the occasion. Evil grows a little gray hair and masquerades as a lover of roasted potatoes (which, I suppose, is the kind of thing we might fear most about true evil - its true banality; except in a mythic construction, darn it!)
And so the reader is, ultimately, left slack-jawed. What just happened? A bad guy broke his ankle? That is Justice, capital J? Don't set us up for sequels ("Um. Silas. If you're ever in trouble, call me. I'll come and help.") if you haven't fully established heroic perseverance from the gitgo.
So, yes, read this book because Gaiman writes as one should write. He just hasn't discovered how to create - yet.... And when he does, it will be, well, very special.