Monday 2 April 2012

Coraline review

Neil Gaiman
January 1st 2002

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.

Coraline was actually a surprisingly creepy book. I've only ever read one other Neil Gaiman book before (something which I'm trying to rectify), and it wasn't that bad, and it isn't like Coraline was mind-blowingly creepy or anything, but for a children's book, it's pretty scary. Which is something I really admire about it. There was also loads of illustrations in there (like how there was in The Graveyard Book), though I didn't really like them much. Well, I didn't like the ones of people. The ones of the rats and the Cat were cool though. I mostly didn't like them because of this illustration, though...

Ewww... Just look at it! So creepy! But hey, it's just a picture... *shudders anyway*

I really wish that I'd read this book when I was younger, because while I thought it was really great, I think it just would've been hilarious to see how many nightmares I could've gotten out of this book. If an episode of Doctor Who could've given me weeks worth of nightmares and an irrational fear of gas masks, I would've loved to have seen what this book would've done to me! 

But regardless of it's undertones of creepiness, it is a wonderful, magical story. Just not in the typical kind of way. Neil Gaiman takes this kind of fairy tale style of writing and twists into something with just the right amount of malevolence. If there ever is a right amount of malevolence, that is. What I'm trying to say is that it's like a fairytale, but way darker, I guess? Yeah.

I don't really know what to say about Coraline herself, as a character, because it was kind of one of those things where you don't really get to know the character that well. Though that may have just been the third person writing. But I did get the sense that she was a really determined kid, and despite the fact that she could've had everything she wanted on a silver platter, all for the price of having button eyes sewn into her face, she had the wiles to know that it was all a trick. I think that was the thing I liked about her. She won her way out of the Other Mother's trap with her brains and wit, which is always an admirable thing.

Before I finish this up, I do have another thing I *must* talk about. The Cat. I'm sorry, but you know me and my thing with sarcastic talking cats. I lurve them (but not in that way. That's just creepy.) But yeah, this Cat was kind of special, because not only was it a sarcastic talking cat, it was also just a normal cat! Which showed in the fact that it was scared, a condition that the STC does not often suffer. 

Coraline is a wonderfully creepy, magical story which I don't really think can be confined to just one age group, so however old you are, as long as you can read moderately well and have a thing for strangeness, you should read it!


  1. I read this one years ago. I agree... it was pretty creepy for a children's book, but deliciously so!

  2. hmm I loved this book but I agree, the drawings of people (especially the button eyed ones) really freaked me out! lol, fantastic story though and yes - the cat is awesome :)

  3. Awesome review Cicely! I loved the cat too! :) x

  4. Eep! That drawing alone could give us nightmares for days...

    We have the movie DVR-ed, and we love some of Gaiman's other work, so we're glad to know the story is good. Thanks for the review!


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