Book of the Month: Coraline

This October, lovers of literature like myself are in search of a topical Halloween read! This search can be difficult, especially when the most noted of these works are often so blatantly boring and obvious; Frankenstein, It, Dracula. In my experience, finding a new, original thriller novel is increasingly rare. Those were my exact thoughts in the beginning of October, yet I was determined to find a new type of horror book. 

I found myself researching all types of books, reading reviews and browsing Barnes and Noble, leaving with nothing but an occasional tempting novelty from the checkout line. I was lost in the thriller aisle, where I realized that I had never truly had a chance to delve into the horror genre. 

Thankfully, it was not long after beginning my search that I remembered a book I had purchased last October after watching -and absolutely loving- the animated film! Neil Gaimen’s Coraline had been out of sight for so many months that I had completely forgotten it. In hindsight, I never would’ve guessed that this book would exceed my love for the movie, and be a rich, incredibly transformative allegory for love. 

Coraline is a quick read, only 210 pages. Although concise, this novel holds an incredible exposition and story, while illustrating a universal discouragement: a feeling of disconnection, loneliness, and familial frustration. This theme manifests itself in Coraline’s life when her family is uprooted to rainy South Oregon, into a boring apartment flat at the Pink Palace. As she enters this new world, it is clear that Coraline’s incredibly bright and energetic personality doesn’t quite fit the setting in her story. Her parents were tied to boring jobs, neighbors past their prime, all surrounded by a dome of fog and trees. Despite the dismal surroundings, Coraline is immediately in search of exploration. Her curiosity is satisfied with the discovery of a small boarded up door which opens into another world almost identical to her own, but with every delightful difference: fresh cooked dinner on the table, neighbors to entertain her whenever she likes, and almost uncomfortably attentive parents who have button eyes. 

Beneath its thrillingly unsettling surface, this modern fable is entwined with morals of gratitude and unconditional love, and subconsciously begs the question, ‘what is love, and how can we rediscover it in the most obvious, but easily overlooked places?’

Horror is a genre of literature that is susceptible to polarization. Some people find passion in its fear, while others avoid it completely. Personally, I find that a great amount of the genre gets lost in an attempt to invoke fear in the reader, and can easily lack depth. Coraline, however, is a remarkably well thought out novel that uses easily-sympathized morals to add suspense and thrill. While it may not keep you awake at night, it is still deeply disturbing. This is a great read for anyone, young or old, horror fan or otherwise, who is looking for a quick Halloween read. It has quickly become one of my all-time favorite books, one I am sure I will revisit year after year during the Halloween season.