“Coraline” by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, 2002)

Coraline
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Even though rising-to-fame author Neil Gaiman won the American Library Association’s Alex Award as one of 2000’s top ten adult novels for young adults for the novel Stardust, it has still been a while since Gaiman addressed the young adult’s literature corner, still riding on the success of his recent tome, American Gods.  But it is clear with Coraline that Gaiman can still chill your bones whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Coraline is the main character in the wonderful but scary novel about her life with her strange family in her strange apartment with some very strange neighbors.  You see, there is a door in this apartment which leads to the apartment next door, but it is locked and blocked off by a brick wall.  One day Coraline decides to take a look at what’s on the other side of that door and finds the wall gone, with an open space in its place.  Moving inside she finds a mirror image of the apartment she lives, as well as her parents there, only they are not her real parents.

Upon returning to her own apartment, she finds that her parents have gone missing, and she ventures back into the other apartment knowing that her fake parents have kidnapped her real parents, and it is up to her to save them.  She also finds a couple of friends in the other apartment who have been in this crazy world for a very long time.  In this world her fake mother is in control, ad she’s quite evil.  It is up to Coraline to stop her fake mother somehow, rescue her real parents, as well as her new friends.

In this wonderful novel that is part horror, part mystery, part thriller, and mostly a great kid’s story, the creator of the Sandman series brings us into some of the darkest dreams that children can have, and it is up to Gaiman to leads us through the right door.

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Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.