La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1) by Philip Pullman
I was hesitant to read this prequel to His Dark Materials, which is a trilogy from my childhood that is near and dear to my heart. That said, this book does it justice: I’m sorry for ever worrying, Mr. Pullman. I should have known you would give us nothing less than a Lyra-worthy prequel.
I won’t say too much about the content, lest I spoil anything, but I will say that Pullman has given us new characters to root for, and some favorites make an appearance. If you loved His Dark Materials, this is a must-read; a wonderful chance to revisit a world we came to love. I had the same tingles that I had when I first read Pullman’s masterpiece, and that is something that cannot be understated. I’m anxiously awaiting the next two installments.
I never realised how much I missed this universe until I re-entered it. La Belle Sauvage is the 1st novel in a prequel trilogy to the His Dark Materials series, some of my most beloved childhood books. It follows Malcolm, the 11-year-old son of an innkeeper who meets a beautiful baby named Lyra who he is determined to protect. However, Malcolm isn’t aware of the political and transcendental conflict surrounding Lyra and is caught in the middle of a catastrophe.
I want to talk about daemons, because I don’t think I’ve encountered such a cute yet complex concept. For those of you who don’t know, the soul of each person in this universe is split between them and their daemon, an animal which is born with them and dies with them too. They have the intellectual and emotional capacity of their human (and can talk!), but the pairing also share pain and cannot be separated or they will likely die. I fear that it’s a concept that cannot be fully understood unless you have read a book in this universe, but I highly recommend that you do because daemons are a vital and complex part of this world, and Pullman can use them to twist the plot craftily (as well as my emotions).
Onto the actual book! First of all, I loved Malcolm. HIs young, naïve yet perceptive view of life is fabulous to read from, and I enjoyed him not only as a character but as a narrator as well. I loved how utterly normal he was, with his amicable yet sarcastic family dynamic and his colloquial way of speaking.
Furthermore, I don’t think Philip Pullam could have created a more hateable villain. There is something so wrong and incandescently evil about him; so incomprehensibly horrid that he actually scared me. Even the way he talks make me cringe, and Pullman uses his daemon to create a Jaws-like suspense motif that was truly horrifying. So much for this being a kids book…
If I had one tiny criticism it would be that the magical elements of this novel weren’t dealt with quite right for me. They were hardly there, so maybe it’s something that will evolve in the next instalments.
All in all, I really loved this book and cannot wait for the sequel! (PS I know this isn’t the best shot of the book but my dog was looking so cute I couldn’t help it)