Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
186 pgs; pub 2008
When Coraline and her family move into a new house, she is pretty much left to entertain herself while her workaholic parents are distracted by their own pursuits. Getting to know the neighbours only takes up so much time, and their apartment isn’t really that big. In fact, to Coraline the budding explorer, the most exciting thing about their new home is the door in the corner of their apartment that goes… nowhere at all.
Left alone, yet again, Coraline is drawn back to the door – only to find that, this time, it actually leads somewhere. Crossing the dark passageway through the door, Coraline finds herself entering her own apartment once more. Except, in this apartment, everything is slightly off. For one thing, her parents are exceptionally happy to see and spend time with her, and, for another, they have black buttons sewn on in place of their eyes.
Fearing for her safety, Coraline runs home, only to find that her parents – her real parents – are missing, being held hostage by her Other Mother in the apartment behind the door. Coraline is afraid of this woman with her black button eyes and long sharp fingernails, but she knows she must return to rescue her parents.
This was one of my Christmas books this year (yay!) and I was so happy to get it because not only is it written by one of my favourite authors, and it was a book I had wanted to read for awhile, but also because I had no idea that I was going to get it – always fun! So as you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to reading it, and I enjoyed it very much.
However, it scared the heck out of me!
I think that if I had been reading the prose version (which I’m still planning to read eventually) I wouldn’t have been as scared. The images of the Other Mother with her scary eyes and fingernails freaked me out a great deal – which, I imagine, was the plan.
Fright aside, I thought the book was a fascinating look at the dynamics of a family and the role of a single child of working parents. The emotions felt by the young Coraline – boredom, loneliness, curiosity, fear, relief – are all beautifully rendered in Russell’s drawings. I’ve not read a lot of graphic novels (something I’m trying to remedy this year), but I thought Coraline to be an intriguing one. 3.5/5
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