I really tried to write a summary for this book, but it’s literally indescribable. Neil Gaiman is a master of language and storytelling and this book makes me want to read ALL THE BOOKS. Gaiman handles child narrators in a way that makes them so much more mature but while still maintaining that innocence that is inherent in children. I say this from my experience with reading The Graveyard Book as well as this one. Our narrator in this book is so serious but is still just a child (I think he’s 7?) and has moments where he acts like one. I love that he loves to read books and maybe that’s why he reacts the way he does. All of these magical things are happening around him, and he kind of just accepts it. There are a few times when he tries to make sense of things, but in the end he’s just like, “Yeah, sure, that’s how it is. Of course.” He’s just so ready to believe in the Hempstock’s magic.
I also love the way that Gaiman uses the setting in his book. His descriptions are so vivid and it just makes the whole story so real. What’s actually based on real life and what’s fiction? It’s really hard to tell in this book. The food descriptions were also unreal. I just wanted to transport myself to the Hempstock’s kitchen table because those meals sounded AMAZING. The characters were fantastic as well. I loved the way that our narrator’s perception of the Hempstock women changed as he grew older. I also loved the characterization in general. Each character felt like an individual with a past and a future–no cardboard cutouts here.
Despite the fact that this book (for the most part) has a child narrator, this book is for adults. It deals with some heavier topics (such as suicide and adultery) and contains some scenes that may be disturbing for younger children. That being said, since the story is being narrated by a young boy, he sees some things that he doesn’t quite understand. So if a younger reader were to get their hands on this book, a lot of things may go over their head since descriptions aren’t very explicit.
Overall, I thought this book was absolutely magical. I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I loved the story. I would DEFINITELY recommend this one.
Overall Rating: 5
Violence: Moderate (some of this is magical violence)
Sexual Content: Moderate