Coraline — Niel Gaiman

This is the most deliciously creepy book I’ve ever read.

Neil Gaiman’s ability to write children’s novels, that are as delightful to adults as they are mesmerizing to kids, is refreshing.

To me, most of YA literature has a tendency to sound just slightly condescending to the target age group. Though plot development and dialogue seem to work, but the whole never seems to arrive.

This is not the case with Gaiman’s writing. Coraline quickly escapes the grip of preoccupied adults (parents in particular) and leaves our young heroine with nothing but her wits to rescue herself and her parents.

Coraline finds herself in an odd parallel world where everything looks almost the same but lacks some undefined material quality.  She is accompanied by a black cat, and they switch between realities as she gathers the things she needs to overcome the evil “other mother” with the black button eyes.

Soon she is on an otherworldy scavenger hunt, encountering peril at every turn.  In turn, each peril has the temerity to simultaneously thrill and terrify the reader. There is the odd “Yewwww!” thrown in for good measure.

Gaiman’s children’s writing is as taut and flowing as his other books.  The Sandman graphic novels provide a perfect example of prose that sort sidles up to you and you don’t notice until it’s devoured your imagination, giving you whole new worlds to think about.

Speaking of creepy, you should check out Click Clack the Rattlebag. The link takes you to a journal entry on Gaiman’s website, and there’s an interesting bit of background, with a link to the download about half way down. This is an audio book narrated by Neil himself, he has the perfect scratch in his voice to convey every nuance of the story.