Yesterday I finished book #6, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I liked it, but not as much as I did Coraline.
After someone has murdered his family, a toddler is taken in and lovingly raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard. "Bod" is to stay there until he is grown and it's safe for him to go and live in the outside world (because his family's murderer is still out there and wants to finish the job).
The first chapter and last two chapters were very good, I thought. The ones in-between felt a bit uneven. There were some improbabilities that bothered me: f.e. when Bod goes into town to sell a jewel, because he needs money to buy something for a friend. He is 8 years old, has never been outside the graveyard, has never seen money or shops — how would he know where to go, what to say, what to do? Also, in his reasoning he often seemed older than he actually was.
I thought it was a pity that none of the dead were really scary. Even the ghouls were rather comical, with the Bishop of Bath and Wells giving me a right Blackadder moment. The only threat to Bod's existence is posed by living people. It gave me the impression that the book was written for a slightly younger age group than Coraline was.
I didn't much care for Dave McKean's illustrations, I think I would have preferred Chris Riddell's (was that the UK edition he did?). Something I did like: the way the dead are introduced by what's written on their headstone, f.e.:
'Bod's left ankle was swollen and purple. Doctor Trefusis (1870-1936, May He Wake to Glory) inspected it and pronounced it merely sprained.' (p.96)
All in all I give the book 3/5.
#7 is not a book but a short story. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a mere 6 pages long (in print-out). I read it this morning, so officially it doesn't count I guess, but let's pretend that in the U.S. it was still 31 October, even if it was after midnight.
I already knew The Lottery from a film I saw on TV, but even if I hadn't I would have seen what was coming from a mile away. Still, it was a good story. I've nothing to say about it that hasn't been said a hundred times before. 3/5
So this wraps up the R.I.P. III Challenge for me. This was my initial list:
Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle — read, 3/5
A.A. Merritt: Burn, Witch, Burn! — read, 2/5
Poppy Z. Brite: His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood and other stories — read, 1/5
Shirley Jackson: The Lottery — read, 3/5
Albert Sánchez Piñol: Nachtlicht (La pell freda/Cold Skin), and
A.M. Homes: The End of Alice — still going to read these two, as I may not wish to keep them and desperately need to make some room on my shelves
Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White — saving for winter
Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue — saving, for the next R.I.P. Challenge perhaps?
W.F. Hermans: De donkere kamer van Damokles (The Darkroom of Damocles) — saving for now
Not on my list, but also read (and bought, ack!*):
Chris Priestley: Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, 3/5
Neil Gaiman: Coraline, 4/5
Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book, 3/5
Also watched the TV film of The Woman in Black — not as scary as I had hoped/feared, but very atmospheric and nicely done; 3/5.
Having so many books as yet unread, or read so long ago that I don't remember a thing about them, I am rather spoiled for choice. A challenge like this helps to narrow down my choices. I really enjoyed the R.I.P. Challenge and I'd like to thank Carl for hosting it. I hope to join again next year!
*It had not been my intention to buy more books, and having no place on the shelves for these three, I made a firm resolve not to add to the pile until I had gotten rid of a respectable number. Next thing I know I'm reading an email by Persephone Books informing me that the new catalogue and Biannually are on their way and my first reaction is "Ooh! Ordering time!"
Somebody save me.