by Neil Gaiman
There is something strange about Coraline's new home. It's not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It's the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.
Neil Gaiman's one of those people who was just born to write. He's written more stories than I've had hot dinners, and many of those stories have gone on to be adapted into other mediums. I've been meaning to read Coraline for a while now, especially as I love the film adaptation so much - but how could I not when it was directed by Henry Selick, the man who also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas?
Now this could be a pretty unpopular opinion, but I'm going to start off by saying that I enjoy the film just a little bit more than I enjoyed the book, but that doesn't mean the book isn't brilliant. The film took an already amazing story and fleshed it out, not to mention I have something of a soft spot for stop motion films. Again, blame it on my eternal love for The Nightmare Before Christmas.
I love Gaiman's stories. From American Gods to Stardust to The Graveyard Book he just has this wonderful ability for creating stories you feel as though you could step into, each with that signature weirdness that no one can quite describe but is unique to him. Needless to say, Coraline is another story I love; if I'd read this as a child it would have had me sleeping with the light on for weeks, because frankly the Other Mother is probably one of Gaiman's creepiest villains.
Reading this very much reminded me of my childhood, reading fairy tales and other children's stories that began my love for speculative fiction and magical realism, but it was this fairy tale quality that also caused the biggest problem for me. Because Coraline read very much like a fairy tale, there didn't seem to be much depth to any of the characters which was a shame. Having said that, I still really, really enjoyed the story and I'm glad I finally read it. If I ever have children of my own, I'll definitely be reading this to them before they go to bed...