Most of the story takes place in a graveyard situated on a hill that is surrounded by an old town: “for the graveyard covered the whole of the top of the hill, and its paths wound up the hill and down and back upon themselves” (p.14). The graveyard is full of mysteries and is also Bod’s home. Because he is granted the “Freedom of the Graveyard”, the graveyard protects him and he can use special abilities while he is there.
The graveyard can be described as a sanctuary for Bod because it protects him and keeps him safe, but on the other hand he is caged in the graveyard because the other ghosts and Silas don’t allow him to leave the graveyard for a long time because it is too dangerous in the world outside. The graveyard is a sanctuary for Bod because it’s the place where he grows up and lives until he is old enough and the Jacks are defeated.
In the graveyard he is part of a new family. He has new parents in Mr. and Mrs. Owens, he has a teacher and guardian in Silas and Mrs. Lupescu and many other ghosts. In addition to all that, he has the “Freedom of the Graveyard” to keep him safe because it allows him to turn almost invisible.
In the graveyard the ghosts and Silas are able to protect Bod from any harm: “But as long as you stay here, you are safe” (p.37). Silas also tells Bod: “So the Graveyard is taking care of you. While you are here, you can see in the darkness. You can walk some of the ways that the living will slip from you” (p.38).
As already mentioned Bod still feels caged in the graveyard because the ghosts and Silas won’t allow him to leave it. “You aren’t allowed out of the graveyard, (…) not these days” (p.37). The inhabitants of the graveyard only want to protect him and keep him safe and force him to stay inside the graveyard but Bod is young and adventurous and wants to see more of the world.
The story takes place in the United Kingdom. The story probably takes place in the 21st century. The reason for that is that phones and computers are mentioned by a teacher in Bod’s school (p.181/182).
In “The Graveyard Book” around 15 years elapse from the beginning to the end. At the start Bod is a toddler, and in the end he is a teenager. While reading the story it often feels like the story takes place somewhere in the past.
Despite the contemporary setting the inhabitants of the graveyard lived in different centuries and act accordingly. The Sleer, for example, seems to be thousands of years old because it’s from a time before the Romans and the Celts. Other examples are Mr. and Mrs. Owens, Bod’s new parents, who both lived around 300 years ago.
At the end of the book Bod finally leaves the graveyard that has been his home for almost his whole life and starts a new journey and a new life outside the graveyard in the world of the living and leaves the ghosts and the past behind.