My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think it was a child's vision of hell.
You could sub-title it, "To hell and back".
C.S. Lewis wrote to J.R.R. Tolkien on 7 December 1929, after reading Tolkien's poem on Beren and Luthien, "The two things that come out clearly are the sense of reality in the background and the
mythical value: the essence of a myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggest incipient allegories to the reader."
And I think one could say that about this book too. I think it has no taint of allegory to Neil Gaiman, but it suggested several incipient allegories to me while I was reading it.
*** Spoilers may follow ***
Note that these are incipient allegories, not actual allegories. They could become allegories in the hands of a fan-fic writer who wanted to extend them in that direction, but if they became fully-fledged allegories they would cease to be true myth.
Coraline realises that the world behind the door is not even the creation of the other mother. It is simply an imitation. The other mother, like Satan in the Christian myth, cannot create anything, but can only twist and distort the things already created. And Coraline comes to realise that the task the must accomplish is the harrowing of hell. She doesn't use those words, of course, but that is another of the incipient allegories that it suggested to me.
The other mother isn't an allegory of Satan, and more than C.S. Lewis's white witch of Narnia is, but her evil works in the same way. And the book suggests incipient allegories to the reader, while containing no taint of allegory to the writer.
So, if you have read the book (and I hope you have already done so before reading this) I wonder what incipient allegories it suggested to you.
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