This book was voted by the public as the book of 2013 in the National Book Awards which is high praise, indeed. And I can understand why it romped home and collected the prize!
This book is a marvel to read. There is a sense of wonder as the author conjures such beautiful and menacing scenes and delivers a fully formed story in so few pages. In half of what it takes many to start a story, Gaiman paints a rich tapestry of childhood, innocence, the ending of innocence, the discovery of evil and realising that even your parents are not who you thought they were!
Gaiman transported me back to childhood so fluidly that it wasn't until the end that I realised that he doesn't even name the boy who is central to the whole tale. I believe that Gaiman wanted the boy to represent all of us. The boy likes Batman and for me, I WAS that boy. I returned to the boy I was who loved Batman and bought The Dandy every week. I am sure it is the same for every other reader who voted for this title that they too felt that strong echo across the years.
The magic element of this tale goes hand in glove with Gaiman's fable of childhood having its eyes opened by the thoughtlessness of adulthood. This tale sings its heart out and the emotions ripple like the ocean in Lettie Hempstock's garden. This will, for me, remain as one of those books that takes your breath away by the sheer poetry created by Gaiman's prose, by the broad strokes of his pen that define the blue of the ocean, the green hues of Old Mother Hempstock and the black of the field at night whilst being chased by a demon. This is one of those books that make all your senses of taste, touch, sight fly off the scale. This magical tale had me completely under its spell!