Black Cat : Coraline, and The Price, Neil Gaiman
Blacks cats in books always seem to get a bad rap. They're either unlucky, or they're evil. Which is why I like these two stories by Neil Gaiman, where a black cat is the hero of the hour.
The Price is a very short story, but especially if you are a cat person, quite bleak and heart-rending. A black cat fights the devil every night at great cost to keep a writer and his family safe. But as a cat lover, I just wanted to wrap the cat in a blanket and keep him safe too. (The picture is from an animated film of the story).
Coraline is one of Gaiman's children's stories, but like all his books for young people, there are some bloody scary moments and images that will give you nightmares no matter how old you are.
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....
In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it's different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Coraline's real parents aren't perfect (they put pineapple on pizza for one thing), but they love her. Her 'other' parents say they'll give her everything she's ever desired if she'll only stay with them forever... Oh, and replace her eyes with shiny black buttons. That'll be OK, right?
Luckily, Coraline (not Caroline thank you very much) is smart enough to know that having everything you want isn't necessarily the best thing for you. And when things get desperate, she has an ally in the wise and irascible black cat who can move between her world and the distorted other world.
As always, Gaiman's language and imagery is top notch. The ways in which the real world and the 'other' world differ are dark and twisted. There is no Narnia behind this door. But Coraline is smart, resourceful and brave, and with the help of the cat she will do whatever it takes to get back home.
So let's hear it for black cats (this little sweetheart belongs to a friend of mine, and she believes someone is going to steal her tail),