Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Standard disclaimer on all things Neil Gaiman related: I love the dude’s writing. I think it’s only fair to warn everybody in advance so we don’t have any misconceptions going into this review. I HAVE MAD LOVE FOR ALL THE THINGS THAT FALL OUT OF HIS HEAD. Are we clear? Good.
Coraline’s story is oddly captivating. Her parents practically ignore her, no one ever gets her name right (“It’s Coraline. Not Caroline. Coraline,” said Coraline. -pg 4), and there’s a door that goes to nowhere in the corner of their drawing room. Or, at least it seems to go nowhere when Coraline first looks at it. The mother and father on the other side of the door seem to want her far more than her own parents do, but Coraline is cautious and careful and she knows in her heart that things aren’t right. Of course, any mother who wants to sew black buttons onto her daughter’s eyes isn’t to be trusted in my book.
Bravery and intelligence are key in escaping from the Other Mother. Coraline shows both of those in spades. Her time in the other world is full of horrible, creeptastic things — ghostly children, dogs that roost in the rafters, and rats that report what they see back to the Other Mother — and yet she keeps marching forward.
Wicked and dark at times, Coraline’s journey is full of all the things that made me love the rest of Neil Gaiman’s books. The black button eyes are the capper, though. So SO creepy. *shudders*