Gaiman: Coraline

[This is a 2008 review of the graphic novel, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, with some afterthoughts.]

book coverNeil Gaiman has been having a very good year, for about the tenth year in a row, writing fantasy for all ages and adapting it for other media. Coraline was his big success in 2003-04 as a short children’s novel, winning the Hugo, Locus, Nebula and other awards.

It is already available as an audiobook, it is in production as an animated film and here it is as a graphic novel (a classy comic book, to those who think ‘graphic novel’ is pretentious).

Does Coraline deserve this much attention?

Continue reading “Gaiman: Coraline”

Mick Jackson: Ten Sorry Tales

ten sorry tales coverTen Sorry Tales is a collection of wondrous stories about quirky characters and bizarre events. Open it to meet a boy who brings a butterfly collection back to life, a girl who collects bones, an evil old horse which steals buttons, and two old ladies who gut and smoke their visitors like herrings and keep them around the house for company.

Jackson works in the very English tradition of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Mervyn Peake. The humour is wickedly understated and an unspoken sense of community makes even the weirdest behaviour somehow congenial. Nature, too, is welcoming, so that a small boy can run away from his abusive home to live peaceably with the animals in the forest.

The collection obviously belongs on the fantasy shelf, and like most good fantasy it can be enjoyed by all ages. Buy it for yourself but don’t be surprised if your children steal it, or buy it for your children but make sure you borrow it from them. It is, incidentally, one book you can judge by its cover – the illustrations by David Roberts complement the text perfectly.

‘Ghoulish and heart-warming’ is not a common combination, but it describes Ten Sorry Tales better than any other.

I found myself trying to ration these stories like fancy chocolates so that they would last longer.

I failed.

Faber and Faber, $29.95

Review originally published Dec 2005,
published here 2020