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4.4 779
by Neil Gaiman, Dave Mckean (Illustrator)

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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.



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.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Time Magazines Educational Supplement
"Chilly, finely-wrought prose, a truly weird setting and a fable that taps into our most uncomfortable fears."
Globe & Mail (Toronto)
"So wonderfully whimsical that readers of all ages will hungrily devour itCoraline is destined to become a classic.
USA Today
“ Walk through the door and you’ll believe in love, magic, and the power of good over evil.”
New York Times Book Review
“A modern ghost story with all the creepy trimmings…Well done.”
Washington Post Book World
“Gaiman’s tale is inventive, scary, thrilling and finally affirmative. Readers young and old will find something to startle them.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Beautifully spooky. Gaiman actually seems to understand the way children think. ”
Family Fun Magazine
“A truly creepy tale. Beware those button eyes!”
Times Educational Supplement
“Chilly, finely-wrought prose, a truly weird setting and a fable that taps into our most uncomfortable fears.”
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“By turns creepy and funny, bittersweet and playful…can be read quickly and enjoyed deeply.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Gaiman’s pacing is superb, and he steers the tension of the tale with a deft and practiced narrative touch.”
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“So wonderfully whimsical that readers of all ages will hungrily devour itCoraline is destined to become a classic.
Orson Scott Card
“A deliciously scary book that we loved reading together as a family.”
Terry Pratchett
“It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and it is a masterpiece.”
Philip Pullman
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, rise to your feet and applaud: Coraline is the real thing.”
Diana Wynne Jones
“The most splendidly original, weird, and frightening book I have read, and yet full of things children will love.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Gaiman’s pacing is superb, and he steers the tension of the tale with a deft and practiced narrative touch.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
In Neil Gaiman's bestselling adult fantasies, telling the difference between reality and illusion can sometimes mean your soul. With Coraline, the author of American Gods develops this favorite theme for a younger audience, taking us through a deliciously frightening door to an "other," harrowing world.

Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Already compared to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and suited for readers of all ages, Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best. (Matt Warner)

Publishers Weekly
When a girl moves into an old house, she finds a door leading to a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. "An electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons," wrote PW in a boxed review. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Educators and parents: Here is a book you will actually want to read alongside your charge! Almost like a Buddhist sutra with its complex themes veiled by more simplistic ones, Coraline does not disappoint. If you are looking for a twist on an old standard—a black cat instead of a rabbit, a couple of washed-up actresses in place of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and a parade of mice replacing a retinue of other worldy creatures—it is all in this phantasmagoric fantastical horror novel. Coraline is Alice in Wonderland set in the 21st Century. Themes in the book include the power of imagination, the relationship of parents to their children, and a child's emerging sense of self, and how this growing individuality leads to the development of courage and fortitude to face life's difficulties. Because of graphic depictions and startlingly vivid imagery, I would be likely to suggest a middle school and older readership. 2002, HarperCollins Publishers, 176pp.,
— Laura Bullock
Children's Literature
Coraline and her family have moved to a new flat and life continues as normal. Mom and Dad are always busy and she is always bored. When her father offhandedly suggests that she count the doors and windows in their new home to keep her busy, Coraline finds one mysterious door that is locked. Intrigued, Coraline finds the key, opens the door, and finds herself in a very different world. Here, her parents are at the ready to entertain her and keep her happy. This "Other Mother" even cooks everything she likes. At first she thinks this is wonderful, but when she realizes that this Other Mother does not want her to return home, Coraline becomes determined to resist. Coraline makes one trip back home only to find that her real parents have disappeared. Knowing that the Other Mother is behind all this, Coraline returns to find out what has become of her real parents. With the help of a black cat, Coraline manages not only to resist the Other Mother but finds other children who have fallen under her spell. Ultimately, Coraline frees the children and makes sure that the Other Mother can harm no one else. Coraline ends up returning home to her real Mom and Dad and appreciates them in a way she never did before. This story provides a good edge-of-your-seat read without being terribly frightening. For those children who like to be scared, Gaiman's novel is a well-written alternative to Goosebumps. 2002, HarperCollins,
— Joan Kindig
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-When Coraline and her parents move into a new house, she notices a mysterious, closed-off door. It originally went to another part of the house, which her family does not own. Some rather eccentric neighbors call her Caroline and seem not to understand her very well, yet they have information for her that will later prove vital. Bored, she investigates the door, which takes her into an alternate reality. There she meets her "other" mother and father. They are very nice to her, which pleases Coraline but also makes her a little suspicious. Her neighbors are in this other world, and they are the same, yet somehow different. When Coraline gets nervous and returns home, her parents are gone. With the help of a talking cat, she figures out that they are being held prisoner by her other parents, as are the souls of some long-lost children. Coraline's plan to rescue them involves, among other things, making a risky bargain with her other mother whose true nature is beginning to show. The rest of the story is a suspense-filled roller coaster, and the horror is all the more frightening for being slightly understated. A droll humor is present in some of the scenes, and the writing is simple yet laden with foreboding. The story is odd, strange, even slightly bizarre, but kids will hang on every word. Coraline is a character with whom they will surely identify, and they will love being frightened out of their shoes. This is just right for all those requests for a scary book.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

“Gaiman’s pacing is superb, and he steers the tension of the tale with a deft and practiced narrative touch.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Gaiman’s pacing is superb, and he steers the tension of the tale with a deft and practiced narrative touch.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.69(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Coraline (AER)

Chapter One

Fairy Tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten
— G.K. Chesterton.

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

It was a very old house — it had an attic under the roof and a cellar under the ground and an overgrown garden with huge old trees in it.

Coraline's family didn't own all of the house, it was too big for that. Instead they owned part of it.

There were other people who lived in the old house.

Miss Spink and Miss Forcible lived in the flat below Coraline's, on the ground floor. They were both old and round, and they lived in their flat with a number of ageing highland terriers who had names like Hamish and Andrew and Jock. Once upon a time Miss Spink and Miss Forcible had been actresses, as Miss Spink told Coraline the first time she met her.

"You see, Caroline," Miss Spink said, getting Coraline's name wrong, "Both myself and Miss Forcible were famous actresses, in our time. We trod the boards, luvvy. Oh, don't let Hamish eat the fruit cake, or he'll be up all night with his tummy."

"It's Coraline. Not Caroline. Coraline," said Coraline.

In the flat above Coraline's, under the roof, was a crazy old man with a big moustache. He told Coraline that he was training a mouse circus. He wouldn't let anyone see it.

"One day, little Caroline, when they are all ready, everyone in the whole world will see the wonders of my mouse circus. You ask me why you cannot see it now. Is that what you asked me?"

"No,"said Coraline quietly, "I asked you not to call me Caroline. It's Coraline."

"The reason you cannot see the Mouse Circus," said the man upstairs, "is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese."

Coraline didn't think there really was a mouse circus. She thought the old man was probably making it up.

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring.

She explored the garden. It was a big garden: at the very back was an old tennis court, but no-one in the house played tennis and the fence around the court had holes in it and the net had mostly rotted away; there was an old rose garden, filled with stunted, flyblown rose-bushes; there was a rockery that was all rocks; there was a fairy ring, made of squidgy brown toadstools which smelled dreadful if you accidentally trod on them.

There was also a well. Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, on the first day Coraline's family moved in, and warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.

She found it on the third day, in an overgrown meadow beside the tennis court, behind a clump of trees — a low brick circle almost hidden in the high grass. The well had been covered up by wooden boards, to stop anyone falling in. There was a small knot-hole in one of the boards, and Coraline spent an afternoon dropping pebbles and acorns through the hole, and waiting, and counting, until she heard the plopas they hit the water, far below.

Coraline also explored for animals. She found a hedgehog, and a snake-skin (but no snake), and a rock that looked just like a frog, and a toad that looked just like a rock.

There was also a haughty black cat, who would sit on walls and tree stumps, and watch her; but would slip away if ever she went over to try to play with it.

That was how she spent her first two weeks in the house — exploring the garden and the grounds.

Her mother made her come back inside for dinner, and for lunch; and Coraline had to make sure she dressed up warm before she went out, for it was a very cold summer that year; but go out she did, exploring, every day until the day it rained, when Coraline had to stay inside.

"What should I do?" asked Coraline.

"Read a book," said her mother. "Watch a video. Play with your toys. Go and pester Miss Spink or Miss Forcible, or the crazy old man upstairs."

"No," said Coraline. "I don't want to do those things. I want to explore."

"I don't really mind what you do," said Coraline's mother, "as long as you don't make a mess."

Coraline went over to the window and watched the rain come down. It wasn't the kind of rain you could go out in, it was the other kind, the kind that threw itself down from the sky and splashed where it landed. It was rain that meant business, and currently its business was turning the garden into a muddy, wet soup.

Coraline had watched all the videos. She was bored with her toys, and she'd read all her books.

She turned on the television. She went from channel to channel to channel, but there was nothing on but men in suits talking about the stock market, and schools programmes. Eventually, she found something to watch: it was the last half of a natural history programme about something called protective coloration. She watched animals, birds and insects which disguised themselves as leaves or twigs or other animals to escape from things that could hurt them. She enjoyed it, but it ended too soon, and was followed by a programme about a cake factory.

It was time to talk to her father.

Coraline's father was home. Both of her parents worked, doing things on computers, which meant that they were home a lot of the time. Each of them had their own study...

Coraline (AER). Copyright © by Neil Gaiman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Philip Pullman

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, rise to your feet and applaud: Coraline is the real thing.”

Diana Wynne Jones

“The most splendidly original, weird, and frightening book I have read, and yet full of things children will love.”

Terry Pratchett

“It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and it is a masterpiece.”

Orson Scott Card

“A deliciously scary book that we loved reading together as a family.”

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for readers of all ages, and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the Locus Award for Best Novelette for his story "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Dave McKean is best known for his work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman series of graphic novels and for his CD covers for musicians from Tori Amos to Alice Cooper. He also illustrated Neil Gaiman's picture books The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, and Crazy Hair. He is a cult figure in the comic book world, and is also a photographer.

Brief Biography

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:
Portchester, England
Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77

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Coraline 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 779 reviews.
bookduck More than 1 year ago
This lovely book has been through check-in many times at the library, and every time,one of my coworkers--a real Neil Gaiman fan--would tell me to read it. I'm so glad I finally did. Coraline and her family move to a new flat that is part of a larger house, which is appropriately big and creepy. While exploring her new home, Coraline discovers a large door in the drawing room. Her mother unlocks it (with an appropriately large, old looking black key, of course) to reveal a brick wall. When Coraline opens the door by herself, though, the brick wall is gone! She goes through a strange corridor and finds a flat exactly like hers, complete with copies of her neighbors and her "other" parents--all with shiny black buttons for eyes (I still don't understand the buttons, but they are rather creepy). Soon, Coraline realizes that her other mother is up to no good. One of the best things about Coraline is that it's funny. Coraline tells it like it is. My favorite deadpan of hers occurs in a conversation with her neighbors, the delightfully named Misses Spink and Forcible: "How are your dear mother and father?" asked Miss Spink. "Missing," said Coraline. "I haven't seen either of them since yesterday. I'm on my own. I think I've probably become a single child family." Ha! That still gets me. I thoroughly enjoyed Coraline's talkative feline ally, as well. In the end, though, Coraline is more than just scary and funny at twists and turns. The quote at the beginning of the book-- Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. --G.K. Chesterton --fits Coraline's story very well. This book was written for children, but I believe that people of any age group can enjoy it. I know I did!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for younger but mature readers (4th through 7th grade), but it could be somewhat scary for anyone younger. It's fast paced, very Tim-Burtonish, a really quick read. I couldn't put it down!
19hs More than 1 year ago
Coraline is probably the scariest, freakiest, most original book ever! This book is about a girl named Coraline who moves into a new house and discovers a door... My favorite part was when the hand was running around the house - that was scary! I recommend this book for ages 8 and up and for people who like scary stories and have some imagination :) Want to find out more about the book? Read it and you won't be sorry! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book keeps u on the edge of ur seat!!! I love books like this, and im guessing its hard for u not to like books like this either! And once u have read the book, WATCH THE MOVIE!!!!!!! Its just as good as the book!
19nl More than 1 year ago
Coraline is about a girl who finds another world. When she finds the other world she finds another mother and another father but just when she thinks this is great, a little problem comes along. My connection to this book is that Coraline has another mother and so do I. I recommend this book to people who like nerve raking stories. This is a fantastic book and I give it 4 thumbs up!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have seen the movie and it was one of my top ten movies . When i found out there was a book i started freaking out and got my hands on it the first chance i got . Being 16 and reading the reviews , i was expecting a short easy read ... thats exactly what i got . But this easy read took me to another world and i found a few parts scary ( im not one for anything remotely scary) but all in all , i would highly recomend .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coraline sends chills down your spine with every word. From the "other" mother to the lost souls of stolen children, you might want to sleep with the lights on tonight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! Great for all ages and it will capture your heart. (: i dont have to bring coraline in my bag no longer, i'll have my nook!! I Hope everyone enjoyed this as much as i. (':
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well detailed. Its even better detailed than the movie! If you trying to decide between Coraline and another book, Pick this one! Be ready to take a ride in Coraline! Hope this review helped!!!!!
19tv More than 1 year ago
Coraline is a fabulous book because it has really interesting drawings. It also has terrific details. Coraline is about a girl that found a door and when she went inside it she went in to a world that looked exactly about the one she left. One thing was different everyone had button eyes and she had a so called "other mother and father." They did everything for her but are they really as nice as they seem? Read Coraline to find out. One of my favourite parts in this book was when Coraline was in the theatre because Miss Spink and forcible flew Coraline around in a trapeze. I would recommend book to anyone who likes a few thrills and a bit of mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coraline was an endearing childrens book with an edge. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it.
Darev4108 More than 1 year ago
As a child, I remember what it was to open up a book and be transported to a place far from home. It's hard to have that sensation anymore when you're grown-up. I have to admit that I did not read the book (nor know of its existence) until I saw the movie in theaters. I bought the book soon after and even as a twenty-something, I found it to be the most fun I've had in a long time. I found the overall concept to be too simple in my case, but the story and writing, and in particular the young protagonist, more than made up for it. What I remember and enjoy most was the "creep factor" that settled in the further I read along. The Other Mother is a frightening antagonist and the setting of the Other World brings back images of my oldest dreams...and nightmares. I was turned into a child again, experiencing Coraline's journey into this strangely familiar, yet alien world. For those who want to remember what it was like being afraid of the dark, I highly reccomend this work. Granted it's targeted at a younger audience and may seem simplistic at first, but Neil Gaiman's a master storyteller and Coraline is no exception.
theokester More than 1 year ago
Overall I really enjoyed the book. It was a very quick read and I did wish that it had another hundred pages to it where it could have gone into more depth about some of the trials Coraline faced, or perhaps introduce some new elements. It also felt like it took perhaps a little long to get started, but that back story really helped, so I probably wouldn't remove it except for the fact that younger readers might get bored before getting into the meat of the tale. My main curiosity is as to the target demographic. This definitely seemed a bit more scary than the Goosebumps books my son has been reading. I don't necessarily think it's too scary for him but I am still nervous about handing it to him to read on a school night (for fear of a nightmare filled sleepless night). It's definitely a dark read. Maybe I'm making kids out to be more wussy than they are but this seemed like too much for younger kids...and yet teenagers may be put off by how young the protagonist is and how simplistic the events are. This is a lot of fun and I can recommend it to older readers with a penchant for the creepy but am hesitant to recommend it to kids under ~10. I'm definitely interested to see how the movie plays out...from the previews I've seen, it looks more entertaining/whimsical than the book (the preview shows numerous "fun" elements that aren't in the book)...which means it might be more accessible to younger kids. If anybody's seen the movie, let me know what you think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book was very interseting and exciting. coraline is always having her name said wrong. Every time it is frustrating for her she hollors at them that there name is coraline not caraline. overall the book had things that should not have been in there. this is all my opinion so dont take it personal.
UteReader More than 1 year ago
Neil Gaiman's skill as a writer to bring stories to life make "Coraline" a great read. He is able to invite the minds of readers young and old into these worlds I believe we all belong to; the world that is dull and is real, then the world that is exciting and what we dream for. We join Coraline, not to be confussed with Caroline, in her journey to save her parents from her "Other Mother", who wants to keep Coraline for herself. Along the path Coraline must also free other children 'Other Mother" has stolen away. I cannot believe in took me over 7 years to find Gaiman's works, but now that I have, I plan on reading all of it. Though I had heard his books could be alittle to dark for children, I thought that "Coraline" is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages. With the story hitting the silver screen as a stop-motion movie in a few weeks, I look forward to watching it, but think it will fall short of the story Gaiman is able to paint in our heads as we read the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It is really worth yiur money exspecially ifyou like horror books. Brecommended bto all!!! Jade
hugothebigman More than 1 year ago
Coraline is a delightfully creepy book with dark humor. Neil Gaiman has written a children’s story with adult appeal. The events are genuinely spooky no matter what your age. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gaimon has the Midas Touch! Everproject he touches is gold. I love how innocent this book is despite the darkness Miss Coraline encounters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher read a sample my class and it sounded really intrasting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coraline was one of those books you read where at first it seems like a perfectly normal book but as you read it if you are a true reader who likes to really think about the book it is a bit unsetttling. The book is ok in some ways but on the whole the book is a little freaky. If you like books that freak you out then this book is for you but if you are like most sane people steer clear of this book. But if you are one of those people who like that kind of thing read the book then watch the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun read, very whimsical, and had some nice passages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter chose this book to read so that we could compare it to the movie version. It was just as creepy as the movie, but well written. It was fun to read this book together and discuss the differences and similarities.
John_GaltJH More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot. When I was first introduced to it, I can't say I had a very high opinion of it, but I later found out it was an excellent book. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially kids ages 6-14.
9angeleyes More than 1 year ago
when i heard the movie was coming out i bought the book, not really thinking about who the writer was. Neil Gaiman's tale of Coraline can be wonderful and terrifying at the same time. (i was getting chills after the 1st chapter.) from then you can tell something sinister was going on, even as Coraline ( not Caroline!) was going about her life in the real world.
i loved the story, i loved how it was scary, and really it's about Coraline growing up from a child with her own wants to a young woman who is thankful for what she has and understands that the fantasy world is not always the best world to live in.
i would personally give this book 4 1/2 stars, but it might not be for everyone at age 8.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is is about a girl named coraline. She has just moved into her new house, and is curious about one particular door. She goes through it and finds herself with her parents; but their eyes are buttons, their hair is yarn. They eat disgusting food(mmm....... toad!). All they want from coraline is to stay with them forever. She then finds her real parents are trapped because of the doll parents. She must find a way to rescue them and herself before its too late! Im in 5th grade... my advice to you is..... read it in the day with people around you.