Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

Coraline is a young girl bored with the quiet life in her family’s new house. Unable to spark any interaction with her mother and father (or three other adults in her building), she explores her surroundings until stumbling into a parallel world hidden behind a locked door down the hall.

CoralineFrom Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass to C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, children’s literature is filled with mysterious worlds accessible through secret portals. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline [LibraryThing / WorldCat] is much darker and creepier than those. The book is a horror — or at least a suspense — novel for kids.

The writing is great. Gaiman’s mild humor and selective detail entertain while the plot hits on all the little fears a child might harbor. Coraline’s “other mother” with long fingers and button eyes was scary enough to unsettle a young reader, but she was not gory to the point of nightmares. The cat character was my favorite. It’s behavior was like every cat I’ve ever known. (Except for the talking, I suppose.)

I usually read and write reviews for adult non-fiction books, but I’m open to new things now and then. I’ve been meaning to read something by Neil Gaiman for a long time. Chat in the library about this weekend’s Coraline movie release led me to this one. I’m glad it did. I’ll be open to another one … just as soon as I finish bricking up this hallway.

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