The boundaries are always there—between the graveyard and the world beyond, between life and death, and the crossing of them. – Neil Gaiman
Under a moonlit sky, a family of four sleeps in their home. In the darkness, the man Jack creeps inside and murders a mother, a father, and the eldest child. The youngest, an infant, escapes. The baby crawls down the stairs, toddles through the front door, and makes his way up the hill to a graveyard.
When the child slips inside the crumbling cemetery, he is taken in by the spirits of the dead residing there. Mr and Mrs Owens become his adopted parents. Silas, a kindly vampire, becomes his mentor and friend. The nameless boy becomes Nobody “Bod” Owens. His spectral family grants him the Freedom of the Graveyard, a privilege which allows Bod to fade from human eyes, to touch ghosts, to dreamwalk, and to project fear.
Bod grows up in the care of ghosts and under the tutelage of peculiar guardians. Silas, the vampire, offers solace and wise counsel in all things. It is Silas who helps Bod grapple with difficult questions about the wider world. Miss Lupescu, a werewolf, offers wisdom and protection from ghouls and other wicked things. It is she who rescues Bod from Ghûlheim, the nightmare kingdom under the graveyard ghoulgate. Liza Hempstock, a witch, offers friendship and life-saving magic. It is she who helps Bod develop the power to slip away from danger.
While Bod maintains little contact with the living, he does befriend a lonely girl who lives not far from the graveyard. Together Bod and Scarlett explore the burial chamber under the barrow and discover the sleer, an ancient monster that seeks to ensnare a new master in its coils.
As Bod grows up in the hushed world of the graveyard, a menacing convocation, the Jacks of All Trades, plots to subvert the forces of good. The man Jack has not forgotten the child who escaped him. Through the years, the man Jack and his associates search for Bod. When the Jacks discover his graveyard home, Bod must finally face his enemies. It takes all his knowledge and skill, as well as help from his friends, to defeat them.
After vanquishing the Jacks, Bod is ready to venture outside the graveyard gates. With the help of his friends, he is ready to walk into the world “with his eyes and his heart wide open.”