Coraline (/ˈkɒrəln/)[2] is a dark fantasy horror children's novel by British author Neil Gaiman. Gaiman started writing Coraline in 1990, and it was published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and HarperCollins. It was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella,[3] the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novel,[4] and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers.[5] The Guardian ranked Coraline #82 in its list of 100 Best Books of the 21st Century.[6] It was adapted as a 2009 stop-motion animated film, directed by Henry Selick under the same name.

Front cover by Dave McKean
AuthorNeil Gaiman
IllustratorDave McKean
Cover artistDave McKeann
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreHorror, Dark fantasy, Children's novel
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing (UK)
HarperCollins (US)
Publication date
2 July 2002[1]
Media typePrint, e-book, audiobook
LC ClassPZ7.G1273 Co 2002


Coraline Jones moves into a new apartment with her parents. As a curious and adventurous 9-year-old girl, Coraline quickly becomes bored of her new surroundings even though she has some eccentric neighbors to keep her company.

One rainy day, Coraline becomes interested in a strange door that opens up to a brick wall. Mysteriously, the brick wall vanishes the next day and the door leads to an eerie corridor. When Coraline explores it, she finds that on the other side is a parallel universe that is a mirror image of the one she just left behind. She finds an alternate version of her new home, inhabited by versions of her parents who call themselves her "Other Mother" and "Other Father."

When Coraline returns home from the parallel universe, she finds that her real parents have gone missing. She decides to go back to the parallel universe and look for them. Coraline undertakes several brave adventures in the Other universe as she battles the evil Other Mother. She ends up discovering the incredible strength within herself through these adventures. [7]


  • Coraline Jones – Coraline is the 9 year old main character. She is a young explorer who is curious, intelligent, resourceful, and courageous. Coraline is often irritated by rain, crazy grown-ups (as they all seem to be), and not being taken seriously because of her young age. She is described as being "small for her age."
  • Mrs. Jones – Coraline's mother. She is very busy most of the time, and sometimes a little inattentive, but she loves and cares about Coraline. Coraline considers her to be rather boring.
  • Mr. Jones – Coraline's father. He is usually found working at the house on his computer. He cares about Coraline very much and is kind, brave, and helpful. He makes "creative" food creations that Coraline strongly dislikes. He, too, is usually too busy to spend time with Coraline.
  • The Cat – A black cat from the real world. The cat acts as a mentor to Coraline and guides her through her journey. He is left unnamed, as he explains that cats do not need names to tell each other apart, but the Other Mother refers to him as "Vermin". Unlike many of the characters in the novel, he does not have an "Other World" counterpart, he states that unlike other creatures in the world, cats can "keep themselves together". He moves freely from one world to the other, and appears to be capable of talking in the Other World. He possesses a very sarcastic personality, constantly belittling Coraline, but nevertheless is helpful to her. He is defiant of the Other Mother, but seems to tremble at the thought of being stuck in the Other World forever. He befriends Coraline and helps her escape from the Beldam, though Coraline also uses him as an impromptu weapon.
  • The Beldam (also known as the Other Mother) – The primary antagonist of the novel. She is an evil inhuman witch and the ruler of the Other World. She looks similar to Coraline's real mother but taller and thinner, with long black hair that seems to move by itself, black button eyes, paper-white skin, and extremely long, twitchy fingers with long dark red nails. During the course of the novel, she grows taller, thinner, and paler, looking less and less like Coraline's mother. She cannot create, but only copy, twist, and change things from the real world when constructing her version of it. She collects children, whom she loves possessively to the point of eventual destruction, taking their souls so they cannot leave her world and caring for them until they pass away, but wanting to feel their happiness and joy afterwards.
  • The Other Father – A creation of the Beldam in the image of Mr. Jones, the Other Father is used to help trick Coraline to stay in the Other World. Like her real father, he has a study and sits there during the day and will not talk to Coraline for long. He does not work, he merely occupies the study, and is not permitted to talk to Coraline by himself. He is much more fun than Coraline's real father and always tries to be cheerful and fun in front of Coraline. In reality, the Other Father is sad and nervous. The Beldam ends up punishing him for revealing too much to Coraline—she transforms him into a soft, doughy, grub-like creature, and orders the Other Father to trap Coraline so she cannot win her challenge. He voices his reluctance to harm her, yet cannot refuse the Beldam's orders.
  • Miss Spink and Miss Forcible – A pair of retired actresses who live in the flat under Coraline's. They own many aging Scotties and talk in theater jargon, often referencing their time as actresses. In the Other World, they are youthful and perform continuously in front of many different dogs, who, in the Other World, are anthropomorphic.
  • Mr. Bobo – A retired circus performer living in the flat above Coraline's; he is commonly referred to as the Crazy Old Man Upstairs. Over the course of the book, he claims to be training mice to perform in a mouse circus, and often brings Coraline messages from them. His Other World counterpart however, trains rats and is in fact made of rats.
  • The Ghost Children – The spirits of three children who were previous victims of the Beldam: two girls and one boy. The boy is described as having a dirty face and red trousers. One of the girls has brown hair, a pink blouse, and a pink skirt. The other has a brown bonnet and brown dress. They were trapped by the Beldam at different times before Coraline, and reside in the dark space behind the mirror. After having their souls restored, they go to the afterlife.



Coraline inspired the "Coralisa" segment of The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XXVIII", which aired on 22 October 2017. Neil Gaiman provided the voice of the Simpsons' cat, Snowball V.[8]


With the help of the animation studio Laika, director Henry Selick released a stop motion film adaptation in 2009 that received critical acclaim. At the 82nd Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature but lost to Pixar's Up. The film has several small differences, but holds strong to the original plot of the book. In the film, Coraline is depicted as having short blue hair and freckles. Henry Selick also added a new character, Wyborn "Wybie" Lovat, a boy about Coraline's age who vexes her at first but over time, grows on her. In the Other World, his copy cannot speak but is an ally to Coraline. At the end of the film, Coraline reaches out to help Wybie tell his grandmother what is behind the little door, whose sister was one of the ghost children lost to the Beldam.

Graphic novelEdit

A graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell, lettered by Todd Klein and coloured by Lovern Kindzierski, was published in 2008.[9]


A theatrical adaptation, with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt and book by David Greenspan, premiered on 6 May 2009, produced by MCC Theater and True Love Productions Off-Broadway at The Lucille Lortel Theatre.[10] Nine-year-old Coraline was played by an adult, Jayne Houdyshell, and the Other Mother was played by David Greenspan.[10]

Video gamesEdit

A video game adaptation, based on the film, was published and developed by D3 Publisher of America. The game was released on 27 January 2009 for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Wii platforms and contains features such as playing as Coraline, interacting with other characters, and playing minigames. The game received mostly negative reviews.[11][12]


An opera by Mark-Anthony Turnage, based on the novella, made its world premiere at the Barbican Centre in London on 27 March 2018.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gaiman, Neil. "Journal: Tuesday, July 02, 2002". Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  2. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The theatrical trailer for Coraline". YouTube. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  3. ^ "The Hugo Awards : 2003 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  4. ^ "The Nebula Awards". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  5. ^ "Past Stoker Nominees & Winners". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on 20 November 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  6. ^ "100 Best Books of the 21st Century". 21 September 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  7. ^ K, Neesha Thunga (19 July 2021). "Coraline Summary". Book Analysis. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Dana (18 October 2017). "Neil Gaiman would love to see a Sandman parody on The Simpsons". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  9. ^ Smith, Zack (19 August 2008). "P. Craig Russell – Adapting Coraline and More". Newsarama. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b Blankenship, Mark (7 June 2009). "The Score and the Story, Inseparable". New York Times. pp. AR4.
  11. ^ "Coraline Review - IGN". 29 January 2009.
  12. ^ "Coraline". Metacritic.

External linksEdit