Thursday, July 23, 2009

Refreshingly Creepy Story

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring . . .

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different…

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Dave Mckean
Start & Finished: 3/13/09- 3/14/09
Published: 2002
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 162 (hardcover)
Genre: Juvenile Fiction- Fantasy
Official Book Site

“You know I love you,” said the other mother flatly. “You have a very funny way of showing it,” said the heroine from Neil Gaiman’s story Coraline. This Bram Stoker Award (for Best Work for Young Readers) and the Hugo and Nebula Award for Best Novella winning novel took the author nearly ten years to write but although written as a young adult novel, this is a story that can appeal to everyone. It has been adapted into a graphic novel, a stop-motion animated film, and in May 2009 it became a musical as well.

Coraline was a good story, not a wonderful story- nor even quite as good as Gaiman’s newest children’s story The Graveyard Book but I enjoyed it. Like his Newbery-winning book, this one has dark undertones too but even though there is a murder at the beginning of the other book, this still manages to be a little bit scarier. As Coraline herself says, “after all, it is always easier to be afraid of something you cannot see.” The other mother and all of the inhabitants that were created in the world behind the door, hardly ever show you their true face and when they do… well, let’s just say you really wish they hadn’t!

I am looking forward to seeing the stop-motion animated film adaptation soon now and I have really high hopes for it. There are quite a few “scenes” I’d love to see how they translate to the screen. In an interview, Gaiman admits that after seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas, he had stop-motion in mind as the form Coraline should be portrayed because if they used live-action “it would be like The Shining for kids. Whereas the fact that these things are not quite real--they're dolls--allows everything to mute down.” At times while reading the story, I’ll admit that I imagined it as a mix between real world and sort of stop-motion even though I haven’t seen the movie yet.

In ways I can see why it has been compared to one of my favorite stories of all time Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and also C.S. Lewis’ world of Narnia but where those books are charming, this one should not be mistook as anything except what it is: a work by the brilliant Neil Gaiman. It has more a dark fairy tale flavor to it, like something you would find in maybe an old Goosebumps book or something by Tim Burton (especially the really creepy rats). Lemony Snicket said it best I believe when he said that Coraline is “a fascinating and disturbing story” and while it didn’t “frighten me nearly to death,” I still am doubtful that I would want to explore any locked doors that go to “Nowhere” any time soon! Coraline was partly a scary story, partly an adventure, “and partly just a magnificent romp.”

Links: Author Wikipedia, Illustrator Wikipedia, Book Wikipedia,
Interview: A Note from Neil Gaiman, Borders Exclusive (videos, some about movie), With Mania


  1. This is one of my favourite Gaiman's! I've yet to watch the film though.

  2. I read the book last year and watched the film a couple of months ago and I am sure you will love it. It was great! I love that adults get really scarred by the book, but kids not so much.

  3. Now that this movie is out on DVD I really want to see it!

  4. I loved both! And I'm sure you will enjoy the film too.

  5. I love this book to pieces. I love that you included Dave McKean's illustrations. They are wonderful!

  6. I've finally retaliated... er, I mean, reciprocated on the awards I've received, so please come check it out and see if there are any you don't already have that you'd like!

  7. Coraline was one of our favorite read-alouds last year - and we recently loved the movie!

  8. You should listen to this one on audio. Gaiman does a super job with the reading.

  9. This was my first (and only, so far) Neil Gaiman story and I loved it. You've got to see the movie now.

  10. I loved the book, but I didnt like the film too much. They added a new character in the movie.

    Great review :) The other mother was soooo scary.

  11. What a beautiful blog! Stopping by from J. Kaye's place . ..

  12. Melody: It's one of mine too and I haven't seen the movie yet either but I plan to soon!

    Rhinoa: I read the book while the movie was still in theaters but never got around to watching it. I hope the Blu-ray lives up to my expectations! It's weird how Gaiman is able to make adults and children view the same book differently isn't it? With The Graveyard Book, he said that many adults cried (including me!) but the kids just really liked it.

    Kailana: Me too!

    Mariel: I really hope so.

    Nymeth: I do like McKean's illustrations as well. I hope to get a chance to re-read this one someday.

    Shaunesay: Thank you

    Carrie K.: I hope the movie is even half as good as the book.

    Beth F: I did listen to a little bit of it on audio, those rats were SO creepy...

    Bermudaonion: Yes, I really do! You have to read The Graveyard Book now. He's got other good ones but that's my favorite.

    Naida: Uh-oh. Well I'm really hoping I can look past that and since it's been a little while since I read it maybe it won't be too difficult.

    Kathryn Magendie: Thank you :)

  13. I really want to read this, but the moview previews totally creeped my daughter out, nightmares and everything, so I think she might throw a fit if she sees it lying around the house.

  14. I haven't read the book or seen the movie. I really want to add it to my list. Might have to pick this book up at lunch today.

  15. I really enjoyed this one but I haven't had the chance to review it yet. This was my 1st read by Gaiman but it won't be my last.

  16. This was my first (and far) Gaiman book. The illustrations were great. My daughter and I read it together, and she liked it but wished it had been scarier. I didn't think it was scary either, but we still enjoyed it.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  17. LOVE Neil Gaiman! The movie for Coraline was really well done!


  18. I'm a devoted Gaiman fan, of both his stuff for "kids" and for "adults"--he's incredibly talented, and I was delighted to see your review of Coraline :)

    p.s.--thanks for your kind words about my art on the Bluegrass Etsy blog--you're one of the people who inspired my latest blog post.

  19. I have really enjoyed reading your review. And the excerpt from the book made me curious that this was a book I could actually enjoy- that it could be for my tastes too. Thanks!



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