This is a children's book. And it has pictures in it. However, that is where the comparisons end between this and all the usual children's fiction. This novel is eerie and surreal and genuinely frightening. Dave McKean's illustrations, too, are the stuff out of nightmares.
In his usual brilliant way, Gaiman creates a whole other world, which he startlingly draws us into. Yet, in this book, the world he creates is so like our own that it seeps under our skin and follows us around like a sinister shadow. It is this sameness which is so creepy about this book.
Gaiman managed to write for children without once belittling them. the language is mostly simple, but the images he uses leap out of the page like a jack in the box. One with a sinister leer. He appeals to the imagination like no other writer, which is echoed superbly with McKean's not-quite-there illustrations.
This novel will appeal to anyone who has ever felt bored of everyday life, to anybody who has thought that the grass was greener on the other side, and to anybody who has thought about exchanging their family...