I have a lot of favourite books. My bedroom is basically a library with a bed in it. But when I think about books that shaped me – as a person, reader and a writer – my thoughts immediately hop to Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials. I’m not quite sure why this series occupies the same space in my heart as Harry Potter or The Hobbit, I just know that reading it, all those years ago, before I even knew that young adult fiction was a thing, was completely and utterly life changing.
If you haven’t read the series, His Dark Materials follows Lyra, our plucky tomboyish heroine, on an adventure that includes armoured polar bears, witches, parallel worlds and first loves. If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will.
As a kid, I immediately identified with Lyra. She was mouthy, bossy and real to me in a way that many other characters weren’t. I’ve devoured His Dark Materials numerous times over the years, and every time I re-read it, I’m transported back to that time when I completely and utterly identified with Lyra.
The story itself is exceptional too – it’s almost like the anti-Chronicles of Narnia, an exploration of the dangers of religion. As much as I loved (and still love) The Chronicles of Narnia, I really appreciated reading a story so opposite to it.
His Dark Materials was a bestseller, there was a Hollywood film made (although the less said about that, the better!), and I distinctly remember checking Philip Pullman’s website for what was coming next. I desperately needed more of this world, of this story. I remember there being rumours about The Book of Dust for years – half whispered mutterings online, heard second hand at a literary festival. Every time one surfaced I was beside myself with excitement, but then there would be silence, for months or years.
And then there was this announcement. An ‘equel’, as Philip Pullman put it, one that had Lyra centre stage. After spluttering “NO WAY,” when I saw the news on my Twitter feed, I immediately began googling articles about this new series, getting more and more excited. Much like the relationship between The Cursed Child and the original Harry Potter series, I don’t expect The Book of Dust to be in the same league as His Dark Materials. But really, could it ever live up to that expectation? His Dark Materials caught me at a stage in my life when I needed it most, it completely captured my imagination and every time I open my dog-eared and well-loved copy, happy memories flood into my brain. The Book of Dust is a slate wiped clean, ready to be enjoyed and loved, but not quite in the same way as the first series.
Nonetheless, I am excited. Very excited. I get to see Lyra again, her Oxford again, and the tantalisingly scant details that we know about the first volume seems VERY promising. Could October 2017 get here a little faster, please?
Are you excited for the release of The Book of Dust this October? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!