You know how a book will sometimes scream out to be read for years, and you just never get to it? Even when it is from an author both critically acclaimed, and personally beloved? Coraline was one of those book for me… until now.
It was finally time to delve into the delightfully dark mind of Neil Gaiman once more.
What’s it about?
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.
What’d I think?
A chilling tale masquerading as a child’s story, Coraline is one of those books that will be experienced very differently depending on the age of the reader. Noted in the appendix by Gaiman himself, young readers find Coraline’s tale an exciting adventure, yet the parents who read along take away a darker and more disturbing message. The writing is deceptively simple, and I believe this to be one of the defining strengths of Neil Gaiman’s work, he writes economically and with purpose.
Coraline herself is an intelligent child who really just wants her distracted parents to pay her some attention. Recently moved into a large house that had been subdivided into multiple residences, Coraline makes friends fairly easily with the two old ladies downstairs and the old man upstairs, all of them eccentrics of the highest order. She becomes fascinated with a locked door in the drawing room and thus her adventure really begins.
The kindle version of Coraline comes with some great letters and production notes from Gaiman, and within he reveals that this home is actually based on the one he grew up in as a child. Gaiman also reveals that Coraline is the book that took him the longest to write, but it is the one he is most proud of. Interestingly we also get a piece about working with the illustrator which was really neat. The illustrations by Dave McKean are really nice line drawings, that set the tone perfectly in the way Quentin Blake’s work did in Roald Dahl’s books.
What’s the verdict?
Coraline cannot come more highly recommended, especially considering it is a book for 6 year olds that managed to hold the attention of an adult all the way through. If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book before, why not start here?
This book is available on the Kindle book store, often a little cheaper than the paper version. I generally read my books through the Kindle eReader or the free app on my Android phone.
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