I’ll be honest I kind of cheated with this one I listened to Coraline, I got way too excited about the prospect of the amazing Dawn French reading to me. I have been meaning to read Coraline for the last couple of years but it always seems to be pushed back to the bottom of the pile through no fault of its own.
Coraline’s parents mean well and are relatable, but they are too busy to play with her, something most children or adults may have experience in their lives. Coraline amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat, but it isn’t this house that’s worth exploring.
It’s the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. In this other world and house Coraline has a other mother and father with black-button eyes who are waiting for her to join them there and never leave. In this world, the toys are alive, everything seems magical and the food is delicious. Coraline's other mother and other father shower Coraline with praise and have more time for her unlike her parents in the real world.
The other mother presents Coraline with some black buttons along with a needle and thread to indicate that Coraline must exchange her eyes for buttons in order to stay in the magical world, which Coraline politely declines.
Coraline returns to the real world through the door, after a couple of days Coraline realizes that her other mother has stolen her real parents and has the souls of the children who passed into the door before her, she decides that only she can free her parents and find the lost souls by matching her wits against the other mother.
The narrative plays out a childlike perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or the other mother ulterior motives; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and defeating the other mother for good.
As Coraline’s quest to free her parents and the other children’s souls continues, the parallel world she is trapped in grows ever more monstrous, creating some delightfully eerie descriptive writing. Having seen the Tim Burton film I thought I would have a rough idea of how the other world would turn darker but I can honestly say in some bits I think Burton played it safe (which is something I never thought I would say).
I can honestly say I loved listening to this book