Month: January 2009

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Dave McKean

Date of Publication: 2002, Harper Perennial

Number of Pages: 162

Synopsis (from back cover): In Coraline’s family’s new flat there’s a locked door. On the other side is a brick wall – until Coraline unlocks the door…and finds a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only different.

The food is better there. Books have pictures that writhe about and crawl and shimmer. And there’s another mother and father there who want Coraline to be their little girl. They want to change her and keep her with them…Forever.

Review: Many people will be reading this book as we anticipate the upcoming motion picture. As a fan of Neil Gaiman, I wanted to read this book before the movie came out to really experience the story the way Gaiman intended it. It is a thoroughly frightening and engaging tale, and I read it in one sitting. Coraline is a lonely, bored girl, spending a dreary summer exploring her family’s new house. She has quirky neighbors, but it seems as if even they aren’t enough to satisfy her curiosity. When she finds the passage behind the door, everything begins innocently enough. It takes some time for Coraline to understand the grave danger she’s in, and it takes all her bravery to save herself and others from a terrible fate.

Although Coraline is a relatively short book, it is still able to imprint itself onto a reader’s imagination. I found myself thinking about the story well into the night and it even entered me dreams…very creepily. This books needs to be read during the daylight hours (although not even daylight is that safe) with someone else in the house. But for all its very frightening qualities, Coraline is a very imaginative, well-written story. Its concepts have never been presented before, and yet it seems eerily familiar. All fans of fantasy and fairy tales will love this story.

Rating: 10/10

New Reading Challenges Page!

I’ve added a page to the blog, in which I list all the reading challenges I am undertaking. The first is called Reading Through the Decades, and it involves reading one great book from each decade of the 20th century. I picked these book based largely on the importance of the writer or of the book itself, which I think allows for an even greater summary of 20th century literature as a whole. The second is a challenge I made up for myself last year, and which is ongoing. I call it the Bohemian Reading Challenge and it focuses on Bohemian and counter-culture literature. So many of our greatest writers are those that refused to follow the rules and made up their own, and I want to explore their writing and their impact on literature and culture. I’ve also included some poetry by Charles Baudelaire and Christina Rossetti (I love her poem “The Goblin Market”), and as a rule, I rather dislike poetry. We’ll see how I get on!

Keep an eye on the reading lists I’ve included…you’ll see some reviews of these books before long!