Review: La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage

Publisher: Alfred K. Knopf
Author: Philip Pullman
Released: October 19th 2017
Received: Own
Warnings: Stalking, rape
Rating: 4 kitties

Okay, so first of all, I swear I already wrote a review for this book, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. So here I am. If I end up coming off at frustrating at all, it’s simply because I feel like I’m repeating myself.

La Belle Sauvage, AKA The Book of Dust is the first book in a long time to come out that’s connected to the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s a prequel series, so little Lyra is even littler than she was before. Though supposedly the series is going to follow her up through adulthood. That should prove to be fairly interesting. I personally hope we can see her at a point post His Dark Materials, if for no other reason than to see how she’s coping.

I was super excited when I heard the announcement about this novel. But despite that announcement it actually took me forever to get around reading it. Mostly because I’m still emotionally scarred from the original trilogy, and had reason to fear what was going to happen in this one. Still, I did eventually get around to it, and I’m so happy that I did.

Spoiler Warning

Warnings: There’s a character that actively stalks people during this novel. He’s also known for assaulting younger women, so he’s overall a really uncomfortable character to read about. Additionally, there is a rape towards the end of this book. It isn’t graphic, and it’s only by reading between the lines that you’re really aware of what is happening. But it still happens, and I personally thought it was an unnecessary event for the sake of the plot.

I really enjoyed La Bella Sauvage, on the whole. Though I have a confession to make… For the longest time leading up to the book release, I thought the actual title was Book of Dust, as opposed to that being the series name. Woops.

This was an interesting plot, though not quite what I expected. Not that I really knew what to expect. I knew that Lyra would be just a baby, and thus not an active participant in the plot. But for some reason, I didn’t expect her to become the MacGuffin on the book, and yet that’s exactly what she is here.

It was nice learning more about the world before Lyra’s perspective took over. There was a lot going on behind the scenes, and while Lyra did a great job of figuring a lot of it out, there’s no way that she knew the depth of it all. So this perspective was refreshing and informative in that sense.

Malcolm’s character was so precious and pure in this novel. I can’t imagine he’ll stay that way, not if he continues to appear in the series. Still, it’s nice seeing somebody in this complicated world who truly does appreciate and love the people around him. Not to mention the lengths he’ll go through to protect a little baby.

I’ll confess that I hated the twist that occurred at the end. I mentioned it up in my warning as well. It just didn’t feel necessary for the plot. I already hated the character before that point, so I didn’t need him doing something so horrible to make me hate him more. And maybe it’s just me, but considering how close it was to the end of the novel…it just seemed needlessly cruel. For the author to do that to a character, I mean.

On the whole, I really did enjoy this novel. And I fully intend to read the rest of the trilogy as well. And maybe even read them in a timelier manner…instead of being a little chicken about them. Maybe. I’ll try at least.


About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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