I couldn't have asked for a better fourth book. Neil Gaiman has yet to disappoint me and I hope he never will.
I started this late last night and it was just the right amount of creepiness for the hour. Then I had to take a little break and kept going in the morning. But the kind of day I woke up into was still perfect for the atmosphere. It was grey and cloudy and the wind made rustling noises through the leaves in the garden. It kept me in the right mood the whole way through.
Coraline is the tale of a brave young girl who has just moved in to a old big house with her parents. She loves to explore the unknown surroundings and discover new hidden places. But one day, when the rain is lashing outside, and there's absolutely nothing to do at home, she decides to open the door in the dusty drawing room, ignoring the warnings of the circus mice and the message in the tea leaves. The door should only open into a brick wall, but this time it shows a dark corridor. The moment she steps in, Coraline falls into the trap of a mysterious creature...
Coraline is an adventurer though, and is ready to accepts the challenge, when her other mother, with buttons for eyes and bony long hands wants to keep her in her house forever. With the help of a sarcastic cat and her sharp intuition Coraline fights back with all her strength in this dreamlike, deceptive and truly creepy parallel world.
The initial quote at the beginning of the book tells us what this is all about:
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us than dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
So, although scary and dangerous, Coraline's adventure is also an encouragement to *not* to be afraid of monsters in the dark. Monsters want you to be afraid, so that they can control you. The moment you challenge them, you're already a step ahead.
I know that if I had read this when I was a child I would have been frightened to death. But it's likely I would identify with Coraline and try to be brave against the shadows in the cupboards or under the bed. After all she is only a little girl, small for her age, like I was, and she made it.
Of course now I'm not afraid anymore, I'm all grown up and rational now...yes, of course...sure.
Being brave against monsters is not the only lesson to learn from Coraline, though. At one point she says something very wise:
"If you stay here you can have whatever you want."
Coraline sighed "You don't understand, do you?" she said. "I don't want whatever I want! Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?"
Yes, what then? a simple but plain truth.