The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book opens with a mass murder in progress. The mom has been killed, the dad has been killed, the sibling has been killed: three down, one to go.
Now if the victim-to-be had not been a restless toddler, this would have been a very short book indeed. It should have been an easy job for a grown man with a knife to kill one child, aged two. But it so happens that the boy managed to hoist himself from his crib and wander outside into the night. It’s the sort of thing that would have sent his parents into a panic, except they’re dead now, so never mind that.
Our very young hero, serenely unaware that his family has just been butchered and that he’s meant to be next, toddles his way up the street and into a graveyard. This turns out to be a remarkably good haven: the local ghosts, at the urgings of the boy’s newly-dead mother, choose to take the very unusual step of protecting the living human from the assassin… and since the child is now, officially, an orphan, the ghosts decide to keep him indefinitely.
The novel proceeds to follow the fortunes of Bod (short for “Nobody”) as he comes of age in the graveyard. Bod has lots of unusual adventures– he’s kidnapped by ghouls, he has a run-in with a creepy ancient undead spirit guardian, he meets a nice girl his age who’s been raised by normal human parents — but the climax of the novel comes when Bod is a teenager: despite his adopted family’s best intentions, the assassin has tracked down his quarry after all these years, and this time he intends to do the job right.
Once again, Neil Gaiman has written a captivating, imaginative story, with a deliciously dark atmosphere and truly interesting characters.
Check the WRL catalog for The Graveyard Book