The book is both something derivative - in the most pleasing and and interesting of ways - and something unique. It's also really scary, true horror. What's different about Coraline from the Pevensies is that you never get the feeling that Pevensies realize the danger they are in from the White Witch, or even miss their parents in the least. What's worse to a modern child than being kidnapped by a stranger? So if anything, Coraline updates Narnia, makes it more realistic, gives Coraline feelings that the Pevensies (save Edmund) lacked. Like Edmund, she in intrigued and attracted by the monster; Edmund eventually realizes he's been seduced by something evil. Coraline is never really seduced, and knows instinctively the danger she's in. Unlike Narnia, in Corarline's world, there isn't an Aslan to come save the day. This is where the worlds diverge; Coraline is frightened to death, but knows she has no choice but to keep battling the monster. The Pevensies - again save Edmund - act like Narnia is more of an exciting lark. The danger is much more clear and present in Coraline.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is frightening, but like all the best scary stories to tell in the dark, in such a good and satisfying way. The modern parent and modern child have many worries, but one of the biggest ones (besides getting shot and killed at school) would be stranger danger and being kidnapped. Gaiman has taken that modern fear and mixed it in with some Narniana, to create a delightfully and deliciously dark and scary horror story. I say Narnia because Coraline is a descendant of Lewis ( E. Nesbit is the literary Australopithecus here). Four children enter a nondescript wardrobe to find another world full of talking animals and a monstrous witch, and are asked to stay there indefinitely as kings and queens; Coraline enters a nondescript door into another world with talking animals (rats, a cat) and a witchly monster who wants her to stay indefinitely as a princess (of sorts, although ultimately as a princely snack). Gaiman has done it again; if Coraline is a pot thrown on a wheel, then Narnia is a glaze, as is Alice, and Stephen King, and Beowulf, and Tolkien, and the darkest corners of the Grimms. It's derivative in only the most pleasing sense; those bits and pieces of modern and ancient folklore that Gaiman glazes the pot don't detract from a solid, eerie, most original plot. This was published for children, but I guess I'm a big child, because I loved this book.
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