Coraline moves with her mother and father from her comfortable life in Pontiac, Michigan to the Pink Palace, a mostly dilapidated building in Ashland, Oregon, which is also occupied by retired actresses Misses Spink and Forcible, and odd Russian acrobat Mr. Bobinsky. With her parents perpetually working on a garden catalog and paying little attention to her, Coraline feels incredibly bored and neglected and thus decides to explore their new home. She befriends Wybie Lovat, the grandson of the apartment's landlady.
While exploring, Coraline finds a small door sealed off by a brick wall. That night, Coraline is awakened by a mouse and follows it to the small door where she discovers a long, dark corridor in the brick wall's place. Coraline goes through it and finds herself in the Other World, a fantastical parallel version of the Pink Palace inhabited by doppelgangers and better versions of her parents called the Other Mother and Other Father, who have black buttons for eyes. These beings prove to be warmer and more attentive than Coraline's real parents, particularly the Other Mother, who does everything she can to impress Coraline. Coraline decides to stay the night at the Other World, but when she wakes the next morning, she finds herself in her old world.
Despite warnings of danger from her neighbors, Coraline continues to go to the Other World at night to escape from the doldrums of her real life and is entertained by button-eyed "Other" versions of her neighbors, including a mute Other Wybie, who guides her through the Other World. During her third visit, Coraline encounters a black cat from her own world that has the ability to talk in the Other World, and also warns Coraline of danger. She disregards the warnings until the Other Mother invites her to live in the Other World forever if she sews buttons over her eyes. When Coraline demands to return home, the Other Mother angrily reveals her true form as a monstrous witch and traps Coraline in a small room behind a mirror where she meets the ghosts of three children who had lost their eyes and souls to the Other Mother. With the help of the Other Wybie, Coraline escapes to her own world, but finds that her parents have been kidnapped by the Other Mother.
Armed with a seeing stone provided by the real Spink and Forcible, Coraline returns to the Other World and challenges the Other Mother to a game to find her missing parents and the eyes of the ghost children in the Other World, agreeing to stay in the Other World if she loses. Coraline uses her seeing stone to find the ghosts' eyes and outwits the twisted inhabitants of the Other World guarding them, and later finds her parents trapped in a snow globe. Knowing that the Other Mother will never let her leave even if she wins, Coraline tricks the Other Mother into opening the door to the real world and escapes through it, closing the door on the Other Mother's hand and severing it. Coraline finds her parents safe with no memory of what had happened, and the ghost children at peace but not after they warn her that the Other Mother will still try to get the key from her. To keep the Other Mother from returning, Coraline intends to drop the key to the door between her world and the Other World down a water well near her house, but the Other Mother's severed hand enters Coraline's world and tries to drag Coraline back to the Other World. Wybie arrives and destroys the hand, and he and Coraline drop its remains and the key down the well. With her parents done with their work and able to spend time with their daughter, Coraline holds a garden party with her family and neighbors, content with her new life.
- Main article: Coraline (novel)
The book starts when Coraline explores the house shortly after moving in, but a terrible rainstorm struck and Coraline was forced inside. Bored, she asks her father what to do. He gives her a pen and pencil. She finds fourteen doors, but the large carved door in the drawing room with the uncomfortable chairs does not open. Coraline's mother takes a large iron key and opens the door, revealing bricks. So later the next day she walks outside, and speaks to Ms. Spink. Later, upon opening the door, she finds the same hallway she was just in, but different. She walks down it, seeing paintings with something peculiar about their eyes. Just before she figured it out, a voice calls her into the kitchen. The other mother, tall, thin, pale, long, pale fingers with long red nails, and hair slithering around like snakes, and of course large black button eyes, awaits her. She serves a delightful supper, and tells Coraline she can go upstairs and play with the rats. She walks into her room, finding living toys, and the rats come out and perform a rather creepy song.
Coraline has a light skin tone and short, dark-blue hair with a little dragonfly hairclip. She has brown eyes and freckles on her cheeks. Throughout the film she wears her yellow raincoat and wellies. She is also seen to have blue nail polish on. Coraline has a variety of outfits worn in the film which include her orange spotty pyjamas and starry sweatshirt followed by her skirt and tights. She has stripy gloves too, which her mother gives her at the end of the film.
Coraline is an eleven-year-old girl with a large personality. She is seen as a snarky, rebellious, adventurous, curious, and creative girl for her age. She is also a quick thinker and witty. Coraline can get aggravated by grown-ups, and people not taking her seriously because of her young age and outgoing demeanor. But her biggest pet peeve is people pronouncing her name wrong (they confuse it with Caroline). Coraline is also very skeptical of what adults tell her, especially her parents since it is implied that they, mostly her mother, would always break their promises to her and would not listen to her.
These 'Quotes' are all said in order.
- (To herself) "Magic dowser, magic dowser...Show me the well!"
- (To herself) "One boring blue boy in a painfully boring painting. Four incredibly boring windows, and no more doors."
- (To herself) "I'm an explorer."
- (To The Cat) "But how can you walk away from something and still come back to it?"
- "You'll be fine. Everything's going to be fine. I'll take you home."
- (To Wybie) "It's a dowsing rod. And I don't like being stalked — not by psycho nerds or their cats!"
- (To Wybie) "She's got this whole world where everything's better. The food, the garden, the neighbors. But it's all a trap."
- Coraline: "I almost fell down on a well yesterday, mom."
Coraline: "I would've died."
Mel: "That's nice."
- (To her mother) "I can't believe it. You and Dad get paid to write about plants, and you hate dirt."
- (To her Father) "I was kidnapped by aliens, they came down from outer space with ray guns, but I fooled them by wearing a wig and laughing in a foreign accent, and I escaped."
- (To the other Bobinsky) "I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then?"
- (To other Mr. Bobinsky)"Of course you don't understand. You're just a bad copy she made of the crazy old man upstairs."
- (To the other mother) "I don't want your love. I don't want anything from you."
- Beldam: "You know I love you."
Coraline: "You have a very funny way of showing it."
- (To the other mother) "You're NOT my mother!"
- (through the piercing, painful wind sent by the other mother) "Play FAIR!"
- (To the other mother, before Coraline Jones attacked her by throwing the cat) "No, I'm NOT!