As I’ve mentioned before, there aren’t many books that really cause any strong emotions for me. I don’t cry every time I read a particular book, or wind up sad after reading sad books. I definitely know when I like or dislike a book, but books can be depressing as hell, or terrifying, or really suspenseful, and if I feel anything it’s very muted. Once I put it down I’m typically in a fine mood again. There is, however, one book that has really deeply scared me as an adult every time I read it, and I feel like a damned idiot posting this because it’s a children’s book: Coraline by Neil Gaiman.* I know, I know. Not a particularly scary book. Creepy, weird, slightly fucked up? Yes. Really scary? No.
You know the part in the story after Coraline has escaped from The Other Mother? If you’ve read it, you know – she’s running through The Other World and she gets to the door between the duplexes, goes into the tunnel and almost gets the door closed when The Other Mother’s hand gets fucking severed in the doorjamb and runs after her into the tunnel? And then the thing fucking stalks her and she knows The Other Mother will get her if she doesn’t do something about it? That whole part right there is scary as hell. I first read it when I was living in the dorms in college and mother of god, I had a hard time sleeping that night. I don’t even knowwhyI find it so freaking terrifying, but I get the screaming mimis every time I read it. I was even freaked out when I saw the movie version. I still love the book – Gaiman’s stuff is just as fucked up when he writes for kids as when he writes for adults – but that’s pretty much the only book that I don’t read at night or when R is out of town.
I’m still trying to figure out why, out of all the bizarre shit I’ve read, it’s a kid’s book that makes me freak out like that.
* Yes, American Psycho freaked me out too, but it was in a very different way and I got over it much faster than I did with Coraline.** It wasn’t so much fear as just the sickening knowledge that people like Patrick Bateman do, in fact, exist. And besides, that’s another post in the Challenge.
** This sounds like an issue for a therapist to sort out, I know.