Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline has been my reread for the past week. Which, you know, means I read it (again) in the bathroom. Not that I read it in the bathroom the first time. Am I making sense? Because I am feeling emotionally hungover from a very long day yesterday. It is not the first time I have read this book. It is the first time I read it in the bathroom. I'm not sure why I feel the need to mention that. Multiple times.

Except that it's a reread, and that's my rereading space.

Rereads can take me months, reading them in small chunks, occasionally getting distracted by graphic novels or Penny Arcade collections. Coraline, on the other hand, took me less than a week. Given that it's a children's book, that makes perfect sense.

But it is a damned spooky children's book. I think if I'd first read this as a child (I was a very oversensitive child), I might have spent the next few years being terrified of buttons. Or things lurking in the basement. Or locked doors. Something.

Roald Dahl's The Witches had me crossing the streets when I ran into women wearing gloves, The BFG had me terrified to go to sleep lest a giant eat me, and The Dark Crystal movie made me think every branch scratching at my window was a Skeksis.

So, I'm a little glad I didn't run into Coraline as a child. On the other hand, I'm more jaded now, and it didn't give me those deep-down terrors other books did. Is that lack of emotional reaction a sign that I've grown up, or a sign that I've lost something in so doing? Both?

At any rate, Coraline, who loves her parents even though they did just move her to a new house, and are busy working, and sometimes her father makes dinner from recipes, is bored. In this state, she uses an old key to open a door that should open on a bricked up wall, but is instead a passageway. Down that passageway is her mother. But not her mother. With buttons sewn into her eyes. As the button-eyed mother tries to entice Coraline to stay, Coraline has to be brave and try to free her parents and all the other children the notmother has trapped.

And even when it seems to be over, it's not over.

Coraline is a very fun book, but it doesn't hit me as deeply as other Neil Gaiman books have, or as hard as scarring children's books did when I was little. I recommend it, highly, but it's not one of my favourite Gaiman books, and it doesn't sweep me away.

But it is damned creepy.

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