Thursday, 31 October 2013

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I’ve had the 10th anniversary of Coraline sitting unread on my Kindle for quite a while now, so what better time to read it than for Halloween.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Neil Gaiman fan, and although he has featured on my blog before (Shadows over Innsmouth and Rags & Bones) I’ve not reviewed one of his novels before until now. 

The star of this tale is of course Coraline Jones, who has just moved into a new house with her workaholic parents. On an exploration of her new home, she meets some of the other residents; there are the two retired actresses who live in the basement with lots of dogs, and an eccentric old man who lives in the attic training a circus of mice.

In her own flat, she finds a bricked up wall behind a locked door. When she least expects it, the bricks disappear and she travels through the door into a parallel world. In the new place, things look similar but are infinitely more interesting. She has an other mother and father who appear to look like her real parents, apart from the fact that they have buttons for eyes. Her other mother tries to persuade Coraline to stay in the new world with gifts and entertainment, but when she shows her true nature, Coraline  finds what started as an adventure has turned dangerous. 

This is the sort of mild horror for children that I always loved growing up. With ghosts, spiders and other creatures from dreams, I can imagine how some children could find this a little scary. Even I found the rats, with their creepy little rhymes unnerving! But the story is also about hope and bravery and I adored it. I also love the film version too, which is slightly different to the original tale, although both are equally dark and enchanting.

The tenth anniversary edition has an introduction by Neil Gaiman on the origins of Coraline and there are illustrations by Chris Riddell. Coraline is an adventurous heroine in a quirky read that children and parents can enjoy.

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