Coraline – Neil Gaiman: A Review

Would you forgo your current life if you found a better one on the ‘other’ side? That’s the question that Coraline is subjected to initially. When she answers in the negative, things turn sour. Now, she has to outwit the sinister beings posing as her other mother and other father who want her to stay with them forever.

“You’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”


Firstly, it’s Cora-line and not Cora-leen. I prefer the latter because it’s the pronunciation I used when I started reading the book and the voices in my head are unwilling to change it. I even tweeted Neil Gaiman and asked him the same (Page394 is an account I use to live-tweet reviews of books I’m currently reading).


Looking at it, the illustrations, cover, and font of this critically acclaimed book make you think that this is purely meant for children. It surely is. For little children and old children who refuse to grow up. Swimming through its pages you forget that it is a children’s book owing to its elements of horror and fantasy.

The book begins with an introduction by the author on how he conceived the idea for Coraline. The setting of the house in the book is similar to the house he once lived in.

The main character, Coraline, is a young explorer. Inattentive parents with busy schedules keep her on the lookout for adventure elsewhere. She stumbles upon a mysterious door in her new house that leads to an ‘other’ world similar to hers. In this world, all does not seem as it is and slowly Coraline discovers the truth about the creature that wants to keep her there forever.

Helping her in her quest to escape the other world is a black cat that can talk (sarcastically mostly) in the other world. A useless souvenir from her eccentric neighbours, Ms Spink and Ms Forcible becomes her saviour later on. Her upstairs neighbour, Mr Bobo, is a somewhat crazy man who brings Coraline messages from mice he’s training to perform in a mouse circus. She encounters friends in the other world who want nothing more than to escape the sinister creature and help Coraline find her way out. There are times when you are unsure if Coraline will get out of the place ever.

A curious character, Coraline is likeable and endearing. Her intelligence and resourcefulness make her a brave girl who is unafraid of facing danger giving the reader a strong and solid protagonist. There are times when she slips and wants nothing more than cry, but her determination keeps her going.

The simple structure of the book makes it a fast read. Apparently, it takes 2 hours and 56 minutes to read this book. I stretched it out and took about 4 hours. There were times when I was unable to put the book down because of the nail-biting climax.

Illustrations by Chris Riddell are haunting yet fascinating. Neil Gaiman is an author I’m beginning to like more and more. The fantasy horror genre is definitely one that I would like to explore further and have Neil Gaiman to thank for it. This book is recommended for everyone who loves fantasy. If you aren’t a fan of the genre, trust me when I say that this book will convert you into one.

Have you read Coraline? Did you like it? Are there similar books that are just as enjoyable? Please leave your comments and suggestions below.


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