Coraline is definitely a scary book, there's no question about it. The stuff Coraline goes through to rescue the ghost children and her parents gives us nightmares. Coraline herself gets scared – a lot, actually – but she manages to deal with her fear very well and always keeps on keepin' on. Usually, she pumps herself up with little pep talks. She reminds herself that she's brave, that she's an explorer, and that she can't give up. And she reminds other characters of that, too. When the ghost children get scared and tell her to run, Coraline tells them to hang on. When the cat freezes up out of fear, she comforts him. The best part about fear is that it's all relative: once Coraline has lived through the scary adventure of the other world, going to school seems like nothing.
Above all else, Coraline is a scary story.
Even though fear is a huge factor in Coraline, the book is more of a thoughtful coming-of-age story than anything else.