September 15, 2003

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Coraline and her mother and father move into an old house that's been subdivided into flats. It's an intriguing place, with an overgrown old garden in back, two ladies who were once in the theater living downstairs, and an old man who claims to be training mice to perform on stage living upstairs. There's a lot to explore, which suits Coraline down to the ground. The most interesting thing is a door in the corner of the drawingroom, a door that used to lead to the other half of the floor but now goes nowhere because it's been bricked up on the other side.

And then one day it rains, and Coraline has to explore indoors. And though the old black door is locked, Coraline knows where the key is kept....

Coraline is supposedly a children's book, written for (I'd guess) intermediate readers; it's also a truly creepy little horror story. As always, Gaiman does a wonderful job of creating a tiny little world with its own surreal laws--what I think of as a pocket universe. The only author I can think of who has done it better is Sheri Tepper, and even she's done so only in her "Marianne" series, which is blessedly free of the heavy-handed Significance of her later books.

Being a Gaiman fan I bought it for myself, and while I might read it to Dave, I think I'll wait for a couple of years--too scary.

Posted by Will Duquette at September 15, 2003 07:53 PM