At the beginning of July 2018, my book count sits at a lovely little 33, with 34 coming along nicely too. This year, I have challenged myself to read 60 books, document my findings (hence the birth of #cigsoundsbookclub) and fall in love with reading again.
So far, 2018 has seen some stunning reads, including Madeleine Miller’s The Song Of Achilles and She by H. Rider Haggard. Both, however, have fallen short of the sheer power, emotion and vivid imagery that Philip Pullman’s The Book Of Dust: Volume I, La Belle Sauvage has lodged permanently in my brain.
To put it bluntly, La Belle Sauvage is sublime. She is eloquent and perfectly paced, rich with magic, otherworldliness and mystery. She is drenched with belonging, radiates warmth, and demands adoration and devotion. At this moment in time, I am dying to become part of Alice, Malcolm, Asta and Ben’s crew, and I want nothing more than to meet Old Father Thames in that gorgeous little boat with the quartet.
The world of Lyra and Panteleimon – the fictitious protagonists of the His Dark Materials trilogy – has always been off limits to me. An attempt at 15 to immerse me into The Northern Lights left me deflated, and I have never attempted to understand the connection between a dæmon and a human since. Due to my hesitance and inability to fall in love with His Dark Materials, I believed The Book Of Dust would also be lost on me.
Fortunately, however, the outcome was opposite. My heart quickened, my eyes leaked, my breath heaved and I laughed – wholeheartedly and passionately. I fell head-over-heels for our heroes and despised their enemies. I cheered, I booed and I have never felt such a loss when turning the final page of Volume I, since reading the very last sentence of the Harry Potter saga. The mourning period is still full-on.
Without giving anything away, spoiling the drama or tainting your idea of what this book is about; I must hand-on-heart implore you to read this novel. Whether fantasy fiction catches your eye, you live for a crime drama or like nothing more than a ‘what happens next’ pageturner, La Belle Sauvage was created for you in mind.
Philip Pullman must be protected at all costs, so that the next two volumes of The Book Of Dust may rest easy in our arms. I am in awe.