|Cover artist||Dave McKean|
|Publisher||Harper Collins (US)|
|Publication date||January 24th, 2002|
Coraline is a horror/fantasy novella by British author Neil Gaiman, published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and Harper Collins. It was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. It has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and has been adapted into a 2009 stop-motion film directed by Henry Selick.
Coraline Jones and her parents move into an old house that has been divided into flats. The other tenants include Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, two elderly women retired from the stage, and Mr. Bobo, who is training a mouse circus. The flat beside Coraline's remains empty.
During a rainy day she discovers a locked door in a downstairs room, which has been bricked up. As she goes to visit her neighbors, Mr. Bobo relates to her a message from the mice: Don't go through the door. At tea with Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, Miss Spink spies danger in Coraline’s future after reading her tea leaves, and gives her a lucky stone. They then explain that it will make the unseen seen. Despite these warnings, Coraline decides to unlock the door when she is home by herself and finds the brick wall behind the door gone. In its place is a long passageway, which leads to a flat identical to her own, inhabited by her Other Mother and Other Father, who are replicas of her real parents. They have button eyes and exaggerated features. In this “Other World”, Coraline finds everything to be better than her reality: her Other Parents are attentive, her toy box is filled with animate toys that can move and fly, and the Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible forever perform a cabaret show in their flat. She even finds the feral Black Cat that wanders around the house in the real world can talk, however she learns he is not of the Other World; he only travels from one world to another and warns Coraline of the imminent danger, but Coraline pays him no heed.
The Other Mother offers Coraline a chance to stay in the Other World forever, if Coraline will allow buttons to be sewn into her eyes. Coraline is horrified and returns back through the door to go home. Upon her return to her apartment, Coraline finds her real parents are missing. They do not return the next day, and the black cat wakes her and takes her to a mirror in her hallway, through which she can see her trapped parents. They signal to her by writing "Help Us" on the glass, from which Coraline deduces the Other Mother has kidnapped them. Though frightened of returning, Coraline goes back to the Other World to confront the Other Mother and rescue her parents. In the garden, Coraline is prompted by the Cat to challenge the Other Mother, as “her kind of thing loves games and challenges”. The Other Mother tries to convince Coraline to stay, but Coraline refuses, and is locked behind a mirror as punishment.
In the darkness, she meets three ghost children, each from a different era, who had let the beldame (the Other Mother) sew buttons in their eyes. They tell her how she eventually grew bored with them, ate their bodies, and cast their spirits aside. The ghost children implore Coraline to avoid their fate, and to help find their souls so that they can leave the Other World and pass on. After the Other Mother releases Coraline from the mirror, Coraline proposes a game in which she must find the ghost children’s souls and her parents, which lay hidden throughout the Other World. If Coraline wins, she, her parents and the ghost children may go free. If not, Coraline will let the Other Mother sew the buttons into her eyes.
Coraline goes through the Other World, and overcomes all the Other Mother’s obstacles, using her wits and Miss Spink’s stone to locate the ghost children’s souls. At the close of the game, the ghost children warn her even if Coraline wins, the Other Mother will not let them go. Having deduced her parents are imprisoned in the snow globe on the mantle, Coraline tricks the Other Mother by saying her parents are behind the door in the drawing room. As the Other Mother opens the door, Coraline throws the cat at the Other Mother, grabs the snow globe, and escapes to the real world with the key. In doing so, she forces the door shut on the Other Mother's hand, severing it. Back in her home, Coraline finds her parents safe and with no memory of the events.
That night, Coraline has a dream in which she meets the three children before they move on to the afterlife. They warn her, her task is still not done: the other mother's severed hand is in Coraline's world, attempting to steal the key which opens the door that connects the two worlds. Coraline goes to an old well in the woods by her house, luring the Other Mother’s hand there with the key, and casts both down the bottomless well. Coraline returns home, victorious, and prepares to go about the ordinary life she has come to accept and love.