After reading both The Graveyard Book (review here) and Stardust (review here) I knew I just had to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I hadn’t seen the movie, but I had heard really good things about it and the book, and besides Neil Gaiman is a genius! Summary from Goodreads :
‘Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what’s what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we’re hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book’s eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.’
Gaiman has the unique abilty, especially with his childrens books, to make things utterly terrifying and creepy, but still suitable for kids. Coraline is just this. The other parents and the world beyond the passageway would have scared me witless as a child (and they still slightly did as an adult) but it’s Coralines steadfast bravery that anchors the reader to the story.
Coraline is an amazing character. She is brave, fiesty, and curious – exactly what you want in a heroine. Gaiman’s characterisation on her really makes the story and I was rooting for her all the way through. The cat she meets, who is delightfully sarcastic and everything I think a talking cat should be is also a great character, and her other parents – particularly the other mother – are awful, disgusting and downright terrifying villians.
The thing that I love about Coraline, and The Graveyard Book, is that Neil Gaiman is not talking down to kids, he’s not watering aything down or pandering to them. This means that people of all ages will be able to enjoy his novels and kids I think like the sort of writing that is not afraid of them.
I absolutely loved Coraline and I recommend it to everyone who loves a good creepy story!