Coraline “begins her new life” in the very beginning of the book when she moves into an old house. Everybody who lives next door has their own interesting, almost surreal backstory, and Coraline thinks they’re just as boring as her preoccupied parents, who never pay her any attention. One particularly boring day Coraline discovers a hidden door and the key that accompanies it, and when she visits her neighbors, two elderly women, they give her a stone because they sensed “danger” in her future. Coraline ignores the pleas of both her parents, unlocks the door, crawls in, and when she comes out the other end she finds herself somewhere never seen before.
The book is supposed to be intended for children, but the adult undertones in the writing style give what is supposed to be a pure fantasy novel a bite of horror and edge beneath the child appealing writing. With a combination of the writing style and the setting, the whole book is very surreal, and kept me on the edge of my seat even with its drowsy mood. The surreal nature and ambiguous use of words makes you unsure how reliable the narrator is and what you can believe, and makes you question whether the adventure had by Coraline is real or just a figment of her imagination. Something else worth noting is the cast of characters. Coraline was such a likable character while the “villain” was so chilling and creepy it gave a great contrast, while the neighbors and others all seem fantastical and unbelievable but somehow also understandable. Her parents, especially, you first resent but end up understanding them and loving them as much as Coraline.
The most memorable thing about the book is the “villain” of the book who is so chilling and terrifying you can’t help but wonder how this was supposed to be a children’s book. The way the character is written is filled with such grace and terror you can’t get the character out of your mind.
Reviewed by Emily, Grade 9, Twin Hickory Area Library