Alright. Confession time. Historically speaking I'm not a Gaiman fan. I know, I know. Don't throw things at me. Here's the thing though: I really liked this book.
One of the things I think Gaiman does exceptionally well is come up with striking ideas and imagery. There is a richness in his world building that meshes really unique creative ideas with concrete realistic detail. This book takes full advantage of this richness and uses it to weave a modern fairy-tale with all the darkness and magic of a modern Grimm.
What sold me on the book however wasn't the magic - it was the authenticity with which the narrator speaks of childhood, wonder, and loss. That is likely why I preferred the beginning and ending sections of the story (the center strayed a bit too close into Coraline territory for my taste). I appreciated the melancholy theme of looking backwards at the ephemeral. This is an exceptional tale for those who have grown, and lost, and still remember what it was like to see the world with a child's eyes.