Neil Gaiman is by far one of my favourite authors. He has consistently provided the world with extraordinary stories that take place in our ordinary world, and by doing so he has made the ordinary whimsical. The following Neil Gaiman scary stories, are in my opinion some of the scariest stories a young adult should read, especially during this time of year.

Gaiman explores different genres in his writing, so in the spirit of Halloween I want to discuss two of his young adult scary stories, one of which was the scariest story I have ever read: Coraline and The Graveyard Book.

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The Graveyard Book representation

Be Careful What You Wish For

“Those are children’s books!” you might be thinking. Well, I read Coraline when I was 11 and let me tell you, I was terrified. Neil Gaiman figured out one of the scariest things that could ever happen from a child’s perspective and he created Coraline.

As children, we often get mad when our parents who know better tell us “no”. Sometimes, we even go as far as wishing we had other parents. Coraline is a typical young girl and wishes for another mother. Initially, she is thrilled when she finds her “other mother” and even accepts that her other mother has buttons for eyes. She is finally hearing “yes” to all the things her mother told her “no” to, so Coraline can justify this person with her button eyes.

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When reading Coraline, I did not grasp why the button eyes disturbed me more than anything else. The scene when the Other Mother tells Coraline that she will need to remove her own eyes and replace them with the buttons to stay in the fantasy world made me almost not want to finish the book, so the eyes were significantly scary to me. The more I thought about it as an adult, the more I realized that this is because our parents look at us with love in their eyes.

It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so if Coraline’s Other Mother has no eyes, then does she have a soul? Most importantly though, it means that her Other Mother would never look at her with love and affection, and that is very scary indeed.

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“And then she turned around. Her eyes were big black buttons.”

Raised By Ghosts

The Graveyard Book is not obviously scary, the story is spooky. It is the tale of Bod, a young boy whose parents were murdered so he lives in a graveyard and is raised by the ghosts who haunt the graveyard. This is an amazing story about the love that a chosen family can feel and the acceptance they have for one another despite their being very different to one another.

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The ghosts named the boy Nobody (Bod) so that the man who murdered his parents would not find him. This is the scary element to the story, the fear of losing one’s parents to tragedy. Gaiman carefully explores the line between the living and the dead, blurring it yet illustrating the importance of living our one life to the fullest through the wise words of the ghosts.

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Pumpkins in a field

Bod is overall happy with his ghost family, but there is always something missing in his life; therefore Bod is almost the opposite of Coraline. She has two loving parents but looks for another mother and father, whereas Bod has neither and he is happy with his family. I feel that very often in his stories, Gaiman’s message is “be careful what you wish for”.

“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”

Both stories have a happy ending (they ARE children’s books after all) and as always, they are extraordinary tales that take place in our ordinary world. If you are like me and you do not love horror but want to get into the spirit of Halloween, I recommend these two stories.

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