Cats, Neighbors, and Parents REVIEWING Coraline

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam!! This is the fourth Halloween 2020 post. All month long, every day, I will be reviewing or showcasing different books I think may be good for the Halloween season.


Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Children's Horror
Year: 2002



The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring...

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different. 

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. 

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself. 


Coraline is a very popular children's book that was adapted into an animated film, directed by Henry Selick back in 2009. We're not talking about the movie though. I mention it because I'm sure a lot of people will recognize this title based on that movie and not necessarily have known it was a book first. This is my first time reading this book, so I did experience the story by watching the movie first. I was very interested in reading the book and seeing what it was all about. So let's talk about it. 

This is the story of a young girl named Coraline, who moves into a new flat with her parents. While there, she decides to go exploring. She meets her new, strange neighbors, and becomes curious about a locked door within the flat. Her parents tend to be very busy, so she spends a lot of time on her own wandering about. One day, her wanderings take her behind the locked door, into a world with her "other" parents. She has an "other mother" and an "other father", who want Coraline to stay with them, forever. Her neighbors also have alternate versions of themselves on the other side. While on the other side, Coraline discovers a dark secret and also ends up having to save her family--as well as herself-- from the dangers on the other side. 

The book opens up with Coraline moving into the new flat. Immediately, Coraline begins exploring and finding things that make her ask questions. Coraline is our protagonist (naturally), and I really liked her. She loves exploring and is very curious. She gets bothered by the fact that her parents are so busy and is constantly having to find ways to entertain herself and pass the time. She is a very interesting character and I feel like she thinks in a way a real kid would. Throughout the story, she is forced to face her fears and discover bravery within herself. I liked her progression and having her as the main character.

As far as Halloween vibes, this book is creepy, but it isn't overly scary. It has elements that are trippy and some bizarre visuals. However, it does not cross over into being overly grotesque or freaky. It's a book that is bizarre, yet quirky, in a good way. This is a very imaginative story, while also being quite simple. It is told chronologically and the plot is straightforward. This is a pleasant, weird story that I think has the most re-readability of the Halloween books I have selected so far. 

The characters in this book are very interesting and strange. Coraline's neighbors include two elderly women who used to be dancers and an elderly man who has pet mice that supposedly are circus performers. None of these people can seem to get Coraline's name right, which is a point of irritation to her, continuously. Her parents are not strange people, but they ARE very busy. They do their best to take care of everything and encourage Coraline to explore and find ways to spend her time, without making a mess or causing a commotion. This is a pretty familiar problem for kids to have. The other mother is the creepiest, scariest person in the whole book. She is a whole new level of bizarre and she is the one who tries the hardest to keep Coraline on the other side. My favorite character though, apart from Coraline, is the cat that Coraline meets. On the normal side, it is a regular cat. On the other side, it talks to her and becomes a helpful companion. The cat was very point blank in some of its ways of conveying ideas and I found that very entertaining and humorous. 

Overall, Coraline is an imaginative and quirky story that really nails the view of a child when posed with certain conflicts and desires. It isn't overly long, but it is a good length to have to spend some time with it. There is a lot of exploring and mirroring of the normal world that is intriguing. I wouldn't mind re-reading this book again and I think it fits in very well with this month's theme. I give this book a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯. 

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you tomorrow!