I decided to pick up a copy of Neil Gaiman's much-loved children's book, Coraline, based on two things: 1) He wrote The Graveyard Book, and you all know how I feel about TGB, and 2) my brother recently saw the critically-honored movie version of the book and highly recommended it. I am one of those people who prefers to read the book before a film has a chance to ruin my views on it, so I went ahead and got to the book so I could see the movie soon.
Coraline did not disappoint. It was exciting and packed with intense images. The heroine was a great character, very real and full of a child's misguided courage. And Gaiman's writing, as always, was full of fine moments. But here's the thing with Coraline: It's terrifying.
I'm not kidding. This has got to be one of the scariest books I have ever read. This is the stuff of my worst nightmares - lumpy dough versions of people, rats, bugs, blood, and violence. Some of the book's visuals (and even a few of its illustrations, done by Dave McKean, who often works with Gaiman) made my blood run completely cold. The plot of the book is pretty simple: Coraline finds a door in her family's flat that leads to a world that is like hers, but different. For example, her parents have been replaced by an "other mother" and "other father," figures with buttons for eyes who become scarier and scarier as the book goes on. Eventually, Coraline is completely trapped in this world and has to save the souls of her parents and three ghost children in order to escape. She does so, and with finesse, but things aren't necessarily all hunky-dory by the book's end.
I liked Coraline. It was a brief, entertaining read. But holy crap, I will not be able to get some of this stuff out of my head for awhile. Remember my list at Halloween about good scary reads? This would definitely make the cut. Yikes!
What's Next: Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which got some great reviews and is being called a "grown-up's Harry Potter." I'm excited to start it.