'Then Coraline dreamed a few commercials and after that she dreamed of nothing at all.' This novel is Alice in Wonderland for the twenty first century. Coraline lives with busy, distracted parents and no playmates in a huge old house split up into flats occupied by overaged adults with illogical perspectives - such as two spinster actresses and an old man training a mouse circus. But the worst thing is that they insist on calling Coraline 'Caroline'.

A wet, grey day with nothing to do pushes Coraline into exploring and she discovers a parallel world - where, far from being ignored, she is made the centre of attention by adoring button-eyed replicas of her real parents. After delicious, regular food without the strange add-ons of her real father, Coraline begins to realise the possessive urges of her 'other' parents are far more sinister - especially as her real parents appear to have gone AWOL.

Neil Gaiman creates the inquisitive, compassionate nature of no-nonsense Coraline. It's gothic without being submerged in motifs and the narrative takes on a slightly Lewis Carroll tone. Coraline is a far more fascinating protagonist than Alice, however, as she learns the value of a soul and how to appreciate the dull and ordinary as much as the extraordinary.

It's a novel that will enchant and enrich children and adults alike. Some of Gaiman's throwaway lines are as rich as song lyrics.
Read it! They don't write non-dot-to-dot stories that often these days.