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.
A few nights ago, I decided to finally start reading Coraline. It’s one of the few books from Neil Gaiman that I haven’t read yet. What I didn’t realize was how short the book actually was: with only 33,000 words, I finished it in less than 24 hours. I read a big chunk of it before falling asleep, and then finished the rest of the book during a day of sight-seeing in Houston.
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.
There’s a magical story in these words. This strange book displays courage from a little girl that’s trying to save her family from her other mother—the one who has buttons as eyes.
As I was finishing up Coraline, I began reading the last few pages, which had questions for the Author. Neil Gaiman replied to one of the questions with this:
So I read the first Narnia book as well (which was also short—that’s two books in 48 hours, impressive), and here’s my review to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.