Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, is a delightfully creepy little story. Coraline and her parents live in a house that they share with some delightfully eccentric neighbours. There are the two former actors who like to reminisce about their glory days. And there’s the man with the mice. They all keep calling her “Caroline,” which does not please Coraline at all, and they never seem to listen when she corrects them.

Coraline likes to explore things. She spends a lot of time outside until that fateful rainy day when her mother forbids her to go outside. Like most kids would, she whingingly asks what she’s supposed to do. Her mother gives her a list of suggestions, none of which please Coraline. So she goes to her father and asks permission to go outside. When he learns that her mother has already forbidden it, he refuses to give his assent. But his suggestion of what to do on that rainy day pleases Coraline a bit more: explore the inside. Find out how many doors there are, how many blue things, and a few other tasks.

Coraline does so, and is very puzzled by one door that does not open. She goes to her mother to find out what it goes to, and her mother tells her that it goes nowhere. Disbelieving, Coraline makes her skepticism so obvious that her mother digs out the key and opens the door that opens to a brick wall. When the house had been subdivided to make separate living areas, the wall was placed there to prevent access to another part of the house. Her mother doesn’t lock the door, telling Coraline there’s obviously no need to do so.

Coraline gets a mysterious warning from the man with the mice. His mice, he tells her, told him to give her a message: she’s not to go through the door. Coraline is puzzled, but politely brushes him and his warning aside.

What Coraline finds when the brick wall disappears and she goes through to explore the other world, and the adventures she shares with an intrepid cat as her companion, make for a delightfully creepy tale.