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BOOK REVIEW - NEIL GAIMAN  – CORALINE Bloomsbury Books. 2002.  

 

From the creator of the fantastic Sandman graphics, Coraline is simply one of the scariest children’s novels ever penned.  The heroine, Coraline Jones, fond of correcting anyone who calls her Caroline, goes into a strange room in her house and stumbles into a magical parallel world of talking cats and mice, where she is adopted by a new Mother who bears some resemblance to her real mum, but seems to be made of paper and has buttons instead of eyes. The new Mother tries to impress Coraline with magical trickery and by bringing toys to life, but Coraline is not easily fooled. Coraline finds the new World rather sinister, and tries to escape back to her real parents. She succeeds only to find that her parents are being held hostage in the other world, and that she, Coraline, is expected to volunteer herself as a lifetime hostage and new daughter to the fake mother, becoming her child and one day having her own eyes replaced by buttons. Coraline is willing to sacrifice herself in order to secure the release of her real parents. She voluntarily returns to the dark World and sets herself to the quest of rescuing her parents, as well as liberating the spirits of other children who the ghastly abductors have taken as playthings in the past. Coraline plays a series of games and dangerous riddles to rescue her parents, proving to be a very intelligent girl in the process. Gaiman is clearly advising his readers to think for themselves and work out solutions to their problems when no one else can provide answers for them. Back in her own world, finding that her parents have little memory of their ordeal, Coraline sets a trap for the false mother, setting up a dolls tea party on the edge of a dangerous well in order to trap the mother figure in the well. Here is a child recognizing to some extent the need to grow up and make a stand. It proves to be a haunting and powerful story. The Edvard Munch style pencil-line drawings by Dave McKean capture the dark mood of the short novel perfectly. www.neilgaiman.com/works/books/coraline

 

 

Arthur Chappell

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