The best of Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has been writing since 1984 and his books have won him the Carnagie Medal, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and many more prestigious prizes. Gaiman says he was deeply influenced by the works of Lewis Carroll (a lot of his work has absurdist themes), C.S. Lewis (his stories include a good bit of fantasy), and Edgar Allen Poe (there is a very clear gothic, almost ‘horror’ influence evident in some of his work, particularly in the first story we will be discussing). He has mastered multiple genres and many of his books are also available in graphic novel or comic book form. There’s a little bit of everything in Neil Gaiman’s work making him an author you should definitely add to your bookshelf. If you need help picking, here are some of his best books.

Coraline


(Ages 12 to 18):

Chilling, nerve-wracking, the stuff of nightmares. And yet, somehow, a nightmare you don’t want to end because of how absolutely gripping it is. Coraline (who wants you to know her name is NOT Caroline), is told by her new neighbours not to go through the mysterious door in her house. So of course, that is exactly what she does one day when her parents are out. There is something strange about the place and Coraline wants to get to the bottom of why that is. The mysterious door leads to a house, identical to her own, with an ‘other’ mother and an ‘other’ father. The other mother, particularly, is quite horrifying. She resembles Coraline’s own mother but with some unsettling differences. For one, she has black buttons instead of eyes, her skin is pure white, her fingers long and thin with long red nails. Coraline finds herself equally fascinated and horrified by this woman. As the story progresses the ‘other’ mother becomes more and more obsessed with Coraline and goes to the point of kidnapping her real parents in order to force her to stay with her. Will Coraline be able to save her parents from this disturbing woman?

Stardust


(Ages 12 to 18):

The C.S. Lewis influence is strong in this one. Stardust is one of my most loved books ever. It is unashamedly a fairytale and does not try to be anything else. It has a hero – Tristran – on a quest. He foolishly promises the girl he loves that he’d bring her back a fallen star. Only, Tristran discovers that the fallen star he finds is actually a woman who is extremely unimpressed with him and tries her best to get away from him. But Tristran is determined to take her back to his village to keep his promise, and there begins their long journey. On his way he discovers love, secrets about his past, and learns a thing or two about life. This story is an absolutely magical, feel-good adventure and was made into a movie in 2007.

The Graveyard Book


(Ages 8 to 15):

This story begins in quite a gruesome manner — a little boy’s family gets murdered, but he manages to escape by crawling into a nearby graveyard. But thankfully, that is not the tone of the rest of the story. The little boy is welcomed by ghosts living in the graveyard, and is adopted by a ghost couple called Mr. and Mrs. Owens. He soon is given ‘honorary’ ghost status and is allowed to live amongst the ghosts. The book is very different from what one would expect of a story set in a graveyard. It serves as a reminder that the people buried in graveyards were once parents, husbands, wives, and siblings themselves. The little boy, who is named ‘Nobody’ by the ghosts, grows up knowing nothing but affection from his strange little family, who teach him how to do ‘ghostly’ things like become invisible and haunt people. But wait, do you remember the man who killed Nobody’s family in the beginning of the story? It turns out he didn’t give up looking for the little boy who managed to escape. Will Nobody’s ghostly family be able to protect him?

The mysterious door leads to a house, identical to her own, with an ‘other’ mother and an ‘other’ father.

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