Science fiction and fantasy
by Neil Gaiman
The other house seems very pleasant at first, but it holds a sinister secret. Coraline risks being trapped forever by her Other Mother unless she can outwit her and discover what has been hidden in the Other House and garden.
The story draws some parallels with Alice In Wonderland. As Coraline ventures through the corridor it's rather like Alice going down the rabbit hole and into a dream-like world. A creepy, gothic atmosphere prevails. With a talking cat, a mouse circus, a couple of batty retired actresses, ghosts, and whole lot more, Coraline overflows with delightful weirdness and surprises. Yet Neil Gaiman manages to extract most of the humour from the everyday situations Coraline finds herself in.
This novel is so much more than a bizarre collection of crazy goings-on in a house full of eccentrics. The moral points are clear and well-made. Coraline may have no-one but herself to rely on much of the time, but she shows courage by standing up to her fake mother. The Other Mother can be seen as a symbol for all the snake oil sellers and scammers waiting to lure the unwary with fabulous promises and offers of whatever one may desire. Yet Coraline ultimately learns that some things are more important to her than instant gratification.
This is a brilliantly witty book, inventive and deceptively clever. Its short length and fast pace make it accessible for fairly young readers, whilst its depth and humour give the story a much broader appeal.
If you like this, try:The Beguilers by Kate Thompson
They snare unwary travellers and lead them off cliffs. Hunting down a beguiler is thought to be insane, so why does Rilka want to do it?
Stardust by Matthew Vaughn
Life is hard for a star: there's no privacy, you get hounded wherever you go, your heart cut out and eaten...
Coraline by Henry Selick
Coraline Jones feels bored and neglected, and is ready to swap her workaholic parents for more attentive and loving substitutes.
Review © Ros Jackson
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