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Book Review of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

I am a homemaker, mother and a wife. I have a passion for books. I always like to know about different books and love to read them.


Sir Philip Pullman is a well-known English author who has written many novels for children and young adults. He is best known for his famous trilogy – His Dark Materials. Northern Lights is the first book of this trilogy. The other two are ‘The Subtle Knife’ and ‘The Amber Spyglass’. Northern Lights was first published in the year 1995 in the United Kingdom by the publisher Scholastic Children Books. The same book was published in Northern America by the name, ‘The Golden Compass’. Afterward, a movie was also made on this book in the year 2007 by the same name ‘The Golden Compass’.



This book is about an imaginary world where every human being has a daemon(an animal) which is more like the soul of a person. Both the human and the daemon can’t survive without each other. Until a child reaches puberty, the daemon can change itself into any animal any number of times but after that, it settles down to only one form.

The story revolves around a half-wild half-civilised girl Lyra, who is brought up by the Professors of Jorden College in Oxford. Her daemon is a Pantalaimon who remains with her all the time and can talk to her. She doesn’t know about her parents but has one Uncle, ‘Lord Asriel’, who visits Jorden College occasionally. One day Lyra secretly witnesses a meeting which is convened by her uncle. She doesn’t understand the whole meeting but realises that the meeting is about some ‘Dust’.

On the other hand, she comes to know that some children from the nearby families, which include some gyptian families, have started disappearing. She also perceives that people are talking of the link between the ‘Dust’ and the disappearance of children. Somebody tells her that all the children are taken far away to the North. One day, her friend Roger, who is the son of the kitchen staff, disappears. The same day, the master of Jorden College sends her to London with some Mrs. Coulter to live with her. He also secretly gives Lyra, a rare compass called an alethiometer which can tell the true answer to any question.

Though everything remains fine in the beginning, doubts start prevailing in Lyra’s mind as time proceeds. She understands, though not fully, that Mrs.Coulter is somehow related to ‘Dust’. She starts missing her friend Roger and wants to find him and all the other disappeared children. She also comes to know of the existence of another universe next to hers.

Now, how Lyra goes to find those children, what exactly is this ‘Dust’, whose help she takes, how Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel are linked to Dust and Lyra, how the author defines the existence of different universe next to each other, all this is for the readers to find by reading this book.

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The Blurb (on the back of the book)



This is a fantasy novel for children and young adults and talks about the existence of two different worlds side by side. The story is written skilfully and takes the imagination to another world. All the characters in the story are superb. The image of Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel is enigmatic which makes the reader want to know more about them. The character of Lyra is very strong and she is portrayed as a clever and sharp-witted girl.

The best thing about the book is that there is aspect of suspense in it. You can't tell what will happen next and how the main characters are related. This makes the reader get hooked on to the book.

What I have not liked is that the beginning is a bit slow and may get a bit boring for some children. The ending also seems a bit abrupt and it feels that something is missing. Some of the main characters also vanish altogether. The reason can be that it is the first book of the trilogy.

However, even with the slow beginning, the book retains the interest among the readers and puts excitement among them to know the subsequent part.

I would recommend this book to anybody above the age of 11. However, in case of children, a bit mature children may like it more as it is not a casual read and can be a bit thought-provoking for some.

Northern LIghts by Philip Pullman

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