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Coraline and Other Stories: The Bloomsbury Phantastics Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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'I was looking forward to Coraline, and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was enthralled. This is a marvellously strange and scary book' Philip Pullman, Guardian 'Sometimes funny, always creepy, genuinely moving, this marvellous spine-chiller will appeal to readers from nine to ninety' Books for Keeps 'If any writer can get the guys to read about the girls, it should be Neil Gaiman. His new novel Coraline is a dreamlike adventure' Daily Telegraph 'This book will send a shiver down your spine, out through your shoes and into a taxi to the airport. It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and it is a masterpiece. And you will never think about buttons in quite the same way again' Terry Pratchett
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the multi-award-winning and bestselling author of Stardust, also a major motion film. Coraline was Neil's first novel for young adults. Neil is British and lives in the USA.
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Having said that, apart from 'The Witches Headstone' which is a chapter from 'The Graveyard Book' book, Gaiman's other books, 'Fragile Things' and 'Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions' also contain (From Fragile) October In The Chair;Instructions;How To Talk To Girls At Parties; Sunbird; (From Smoke & Mirrors) Chilvary;The Price;Troll Bridge; Don't Ask Jack.
The quality of the stories is not up for debate, Gaiman tells a good tale, often retelling a tale you know, without it being obvious.
The sad bit is that publishers duplicate so many stories across different books and leave the reader feeling slightly cheated - which with Gaiman's writing we should not. I like the slightly scary edge to the stories, they remind me of my childhood ghost stories I read and enjoyed. If your child has an imagination and zest for reading do not deprive them of the opportunity to be a little scared, later in life they will be able to laugh whilst others tremble.
Only 4 stars because of the duplicated stories I already have in the other Gaiman books.
'Coraline' has to be my favourite story in the collection. I would have loved to have read it as a child. The idea of an 'Other Mother' is super creepy and the thing with the button eyes is hideous!
'The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds' was a cute little story giving a new twist to all the old nursery rhymes from my childhood.
I also loved 'Chivalry'. The idea of the Holy Grail being hidden away in an Oxfam Shop somewhere in Britain is inspired.
Actually, I loved the whole book, every single story. I can't normally say that about short story collections (there are usually one or two I start reading and then skip) and so 'Coraline and Other Stories' gets a huge thumbs up from me.
I admit, after finishing Coraline with the prospect of reading the others (I flicked through the stories and read a few lines of each, deciding that I really didn't think I would enjoy them - going through a phase of classics geared at the younger generation started by reading Alice in Wonderland) knowing they were more for adult readers, I put it down for a bit. However, when I went back to it to give it a chance, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every other story. The very subtle wit and easy, uncomplicated way of writing that Neil has made it one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time. He has a very unusual imagination and has the ability to place normality and normal people into situations that are funny and even absurd, and the stories in which he writes in first person as though genuinely talking about himself are often twisted and written as such that you can't decide whether he actually believes in the events themselves or not.
I am now awaiting the arrival of The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere and am thoroughly looking forward to reading them. So pleased with the discovery of Neil Gaiman.
"Coraline" itself is the longest of the tales included here, and, as Gaiman explains in his introduction, he has added some stories written for adults to complete the book as he hasn't written many other stories targeted at young readers. Obviously, this is fair enough, and I would suggest an adult reader is going to be able to enjoy the title piece, which is creepy and scarey enough to make anyone's skin crawl. no matter what their age; but, I must say I found some of the other stories to be unsuitable, perhaps, for younger children. "October In The Chair", for example, is a beautiful multi-layed work, starting with anthropomorhised versions of the Seasons sat round a fire telling stories. It is a piece open to various interpretations, but a crude reading could be seen to be encouraging child suicide...similarly "Troll Bridge" ( A brilliant story, rather like a negative version of HG Wells's short -story about the magical door to a heavenly garden that a man encounters throughout his life) could be read as an invitation to depression...
The stories themselves, are all very well done. Not a word is wasted in "Coraline" , the phrase "Sweet Coraline" used twice and a punning reference to the well known song, is not emphasised by Gaiman, too good an author to need to show his workings out.
Apart from "Sun Bird" which was possibly a bit too long all the rest of the stories in this collection are sharp and idea-filled treats. Slightly depressing for me as I remember reading "How To Sell The Ponti Bridge" when it came out in the mid eighties.
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