CoralineCoraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. It was a very old house – it had an attic under the roof and a cellar under the ground and an overgrown garden with huge old trees in it.

I’m sad to say that I hadn’t read Coraline until now, even though it’s one of Neil Gaiman’s most famous books.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.” 

I didn’t love Coraline as much as Stardust or The Graveyard Book, but it was chillingly good, and the story was amazing. It’s also a really odd book. Like the other two books of Gaiman’s that I’ve read, Coraline is fantasy, but it’s a much more twisted and creepy type of fantasy. It’s set in the real world, but nothing that happens in the book is actually real; it’s all so odd. 

I will say that despite Neil Gaiman’s genius, Coraline was a bit hard to get into (and the book isn’t even 200 pages!) On page 58, things were just getting started. And that’s part of the ingenuity of the book. It’s short, but it doesn’t feel rushed; it proceeds at its own pace, with events slowly unfolding. Yet at the same time, there’s never a moment when something isn’t happening. The book’s too short and event-filled for that. Yet even though the events are dramatic, they don’t feel dramatic. Does that make sense? Everything’s so dreamy, just like the strange land on the other side of the door.

Coraline was a good character, but I really liked the black cat who (sort of) helps her. In typical cat fashion, he vanishes and reappears and offers very cryptic advice. Yet he is on the good side, despite being a black cat, and I loved when he showed up.

Another thing that was amazing about this one was that during the beginning of the book, it’s shown so well how Coraline’s parents neglect her and don’t really care for her. Neil Gaiman never says as much, but you can tell from the way they talk to her and treat her. Yet they still are her parents, and she must save them from the “other” parents.  

And yet, Coraline lacked something for me. It was still really good, but not amazingly good. Stardust and The Graveyard Book were both much better in my opinion. Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, sounds somewhat similar to Coraline, and I’m really looking forward to it. 

Read Coraline:

  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like Neil Gaiman
  • if you like horror

162 pages.

Very Good! I would recommend this book!