Study Guide

Coraline Genre

By Neil Gaiman


Adventure, Children's Literature, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Horror

Time for an Adventure

When Shmoop thinks of adventure, Indiana Jones always comes to mind. Maybe it's something about the music, or maybe it's the fact that a cool dude spends the movies running around in a stylish hat, fighting Nazis. At any rate, we think that Coraline could give Indy – or any adult action hero, for that matter – a run for his or her money. Coraline is a fast-paced book that features lots of intense action sequences involving running, fighting, and cat-throwing (on one memorable occasion). What it lacks in explosions (an action-movie staple), it makes up in adrenaline. This book definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Not Just For Kids

Children's literature is kind of a strange genre. Basically, it covers any book that is written for children. Usually, a child is the protagonist, but that doesn't mean that every book starring a child is a children's book (take To Kill a Mockingbird, for example). And it certainly doesn't mean that adults can't enjoy children's literature, too. Coraline is written for kids, but it sure appeals to adults, too.

Happily Ever After

Neil Gaiman opens his book with an epigraph about fairy tales, and in a lot of ways Coraline itself is a fairy tale. It's not a Disney fairy tale, though; it's more Brothers Grimm style. The Grimm fairy tales were dark and creepy and a little twisted; Coraline is all of these things. It's not all terrifying though: like in most fairy tales, Coraline defeats the evil forces and gets a happy ending.

Fantastic Fantasy

There may not be any dragons or medieval knights in Coraline, but it definitely fits the bill for a fantasy. The other world is filled with enchantments, strange creatures, a box of magical toys, and talking animals. Mix those all together, and you have a recipe for the perfect fantasy.

Oh, the Horror!

The term "horror story" might make you think of Stephen King or a bloody Halloween story. But horror can really mean any book that has a frightening element: it doesn't have to be gory or totally terrifying. If you read through Coraline without getting scared a handful of times, you're much braver than us here at Shmoop.