Review: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
April 30, 2015 § 6 Comments
Neil Gaiman has such a huge following among adults, teens, and children that it’s embarrassing to admit that I have never read his work. – Well, I read Fortunately, the Milk. But somehow I don’t think that counts.
I decided to fix that; I need to be a little familiar with Gaiman’s work and form my own opinion of it. So this month I downloaded the audiobook version of Coraline, his best-known work for children. The audiobook I chose is narrated by the author himself. I’m glad I read Coraline this way, because Gaiman turned out to be an excellent narrator.
Coraline is a young girl who has just moved, with her parents, into a new apartment in a big, old house. The other people who live in the house are all old, and Coraline’s parents are perpetually busy, and Coraline is very bored. She discovers a door in their living room that used to go to the apartment next door, but is now bricked up. She becomes fascinated by the door, and one day, when she is alone in the apartment, she unlocks it again and finds the wall is gone and in its place is a dark passageway…
I loved Coraline as a character. She is complex and believable, a little flawed and occasionally annoying in the beginning. But she is not an anti-hero: she’s brave and loving and determined and very intelligent. Best of all, she grows from the beginning of the story to the end – and that is my favorite thing in a character.
The story is deliciously dark and creepy and strange: singing black rats, button eyes, neverending fog, stolen souls. It’s never gory, but at points it is definitely eerie, even disturbing – as all good fairy tales are.
And it is a fairy tale, after all, complete with wicked enchantress, sets of threes, and a seeing stone. Gaiman’s knowledge of fairy lore is apparent throughout Coraline, so that as a fairy-tale reader myself, I was able to hear in some parts the echoes of much older stories. I loved that. These echoes were possibly my favorite aspect of the book.
Have you ever read Coraline or anything else by Gaiman? If so, did you like it? I hope to read Gaiman’s Stardust before too long; is there any other of his books you would recommend to me?
Please note: the images in this post do not belong to me.
Tagged: audiobook, author, book, books, character growth, coraline, dark, faery, fairy tale, fairytale, female protagonist, gaiman, hero, heroine, middle-grade, neil gaiman, review, reviews, standalone