The characters we would all expect to be the ‘bad guys’ (vampires, werewolves, etc.) turn out to be the guardians of life, truth and justice.
Bod is orphaned by one of the ‘Jacks’ and the Dead protect him until he is old enough to fight his own battles.
This is an unusual and such an uplifting book. I was intrigued by it last year when I saw Gaiman interviewed following the award of the Carnegie Medal but I assumed , like so many books, that it would fall short of the mark (well, actually, of my mark). But it lived up to all I expected of it and more. It is actually such a ‘comforting’ book. When I die, I would love to know that I was part of some sort of community, not doing anything spectacular but just getting on with things. Its message is that everyone matters, whatever small and insignificant lives they lead. The dead are all part of some understated tapestry, and when Bod falls among them, they step up to the plate and give him the years he deserves, whilst, in tandem, his guardians attempt to defeat the forces of evil.
I dislike books which try too hard. This one gets it just right.