It sounded like her mother. Coraline went into the kitchen, where the voice had come from. A woman stood in the kitchen with her back to Coraline. She looked a little like Coraline's mother. Only...
Only her skin was white as paper.
Only she was taller and thinner.
Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark red fingernails were curved and sharp.
"Coraline?" the woman asked. "Is that you?"
And then she turned around. Her eyes were big black buttons. (from Coraline, pages 27-28)
The Girl and I started Neil Gaiman's Coraline a few months ago, then life got in the way and it sat on the coffee table waiting to be finished. We decided to complete it during the recent Read-a-Thon, and I'm glad we did because I enjoyed it.
Coraline is a young girl adjusting to a new home. Her parents are always working and don't seem to have any time to entertain her. She visits her neighbors, former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, and wonders about the old man living in the attic apartment who claims to have a mouse circus. Coraline basically wanders around feeling bored and neglected. While exploring, she finds a door in the drawing room, which opens onto a brick wall. Eventually, as all curious children would do, Coraline opens the door, finds a dark hallway, and walks through it to another home that mirrors her own.
Waiting in this identical home is Coraline's Other Mother and Other Father, seemingly perfect except for the black button eyes -- which they want to sew to Coraline's face so she can be their daughter and live with them forever. Coraline eventually makes her way back to her real home to discover that her real parents are missing. With the help of a talking cat, Coraline must play the Other Mother's evil games to find her parents and get her old life back. But the Other Mother has plans, and they don't involve playing fair.
Coraline is a dark and creepy book, and while The Girl and I wished it had been scarier, we enjoy creepy stories, too. Coraline made me think back to the days when I thought my parents were too busy for me. I know now that wasn't the case, but it felt that way sometimes as a kid. I thought Coraline was a strong character, as she rose to the challenges presented by the Other Mother despite the fact that she was frightened. The book had enough action to hold our attention until the end, but I wish there had been more about the origins of the Other Mother. Nevertheless, I thought it was a decent book with a unique plot. I definitely plan to read another book by Gaiman in the future.
Here's what The Girl (age 8) had to say:
I think this book is very good. My favorite part was when Coraline tossed the cat at the Other Mother. Another part I thought was good was when she ran out of the cellar. I thought this book was good because it was kind of scary.
Coraline also was reviewed by:
The Infinite Shelf
The Curious Reader
If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!
Disclosure: We purchased our copy of Coraline.