The Graveyard Book
I'd first heard of The Graveyard Book as I was browsing for another of Neil Gaiman's books, and stumbled across a 'meet the author' video interview on a bookseller's website. The interview was about his then-new book, The Graveyard Book. A play on The Jungle Book(s), The Graveyard Book tells the tale of a boy not raised by animals in a jungle, but by ghosts (and other paranormal creatures) in a graveyard.
Originally I was under the impression that it was a children's book. I actually continued to think that as I picked it off the shelf of my local library (audio-book form, narrated by @neilhimself), but chose it anyway, because what the hell, nothing else looked better, and I know I loved Stardust (movie) and Neverwhere (audio, review a few weeks ago), so it wasn't really a risk.
The book begins with murder. Actually he's killed everyone just before the book begins, but there is intention for more immediate bloodshed. Red Flag. Doesn't seem like a children's book after all. Don't be put off, it isn't all completely evil and terrifying - it is actually the tale of the boy he intended to kill, but couldn't find - Nobody 'Bod' Owens - The Graveyard Boy.
I've gushed about Neil Gaiman's narration before, but seriously guys, if you like his stuff...have him read it to you (this is where free library lending comes in handy...audio-books are expensive). As usual, Gaiman's writing is dripping with Gothic style writing, and is driven by plot. It reminded me a lot of Neverwhere actually, though they are definitely different stories - they had a lot in common (though maybe it is just his particular style of writing and taste in stories).
Interesting fact (hold your breath): About half through, the story gave me a MAD craving for some Harry Potter....
The Graveyard Book is about a boy. The boy has mentors and makes mistakes. He is not thrown, in this case, into a world he does not know, but he is curious about it, and slowly ventures outside of his own (despite many warnings). He has a safe haven, and there is something evil after him. There is magic and ghosts and bullies and friendship. This isn't a rip-off of Harry Potter, many of these traits are of young/adolescent boys anyway, and the other traits are of interesting plot. It's just a good story.
Since there are some things in this book that could be frightening, I recommend it for people thirteen and older, though it is always a personal decision. If you are thirty and still get nightmares from images of ghouls, you probably shouldn't read this. If you have a nine year old who eats ghouls for breakfast, by all means...
You get what I'm saying...
Read this one, or read something else - but do yourselves a favor and read something.