Wednesday 11 July 2018

Book Review - La Belle Sauvage

Title: La Belle Sauvage
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: The Book of Dust (Book 1)
Publisher: Penguin Random House Children's and David Fickling Books
Release Date: 19 Oct. 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0385604413

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy...
Malcolm's father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust--and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl--just a baby--named Lyra.

My Review
I was such a huge fan of Philip Pullman as a teenager, I read all of his books -multiple times. A few years ago I re-read the Northern Lights - it was part of a Book Club thing at work and I really struggled with it, maybe because I had to read it, it lowered my enjoyment. I decided not to re-read the rest of the series.
Then this book was announced and I was excited - regardless of my previous feelings I actually felt really happy that there was more coming from this world. I requested it at the library and had to wait for it and with studying for a degree and working at the same I didn't get round to it. Friends read it and told me it was really good but I still didn't pick it up.
Until last week - I had some spare time and decided to get started. Immediately I was hooked, I had forgotten how good Pullman was at weaving a story, he does it in such a way that the words seem to wrap around you and carry you away on their adventure. I read quickly and eagerly, desperate to know more. 
In total I read this in 3 sittings, each time desperate to get back into the book and discover what would happen to Malcolm and Alice. I loved being back in the world of Daemons and mystery and intrigue. 
Malcolm is a great protagonist, he is cheeky and adventurous but also intelligent and curious. I loved his fierce loyalty and sense of right and wrong. He's a plucky young boy with a sensible head. I really enjoyed following him down the length of the Thames. Pairing him with the slightly sour and moody Alice, who is just as fierce and protective, yet not all that forth-coming. Yet you can't help but like her.
Bonneville is the perfectly wicked villain who you can't help but find creepy and yet strangely captivating at the same time. I kept waiting for him to appear, almost like he was jumping out at me and it made my skin crawl. His Ha Ha Haaaa laugh will haunt you! But he was so well written and devious.
It's cool seeing Lyra as a baby and how she started her life. We get to know some of the characters we know very well in the other novels, but here we are introduced to them from a different angle. I found myself wanting to go back and read the Dark Materials series again. 
The book ends on a very frustrating 'to be continued' and I am desperate for the next installment but there is no release date or sign of when that will happen. I need more!!!

My Rating