Book Review – The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

 La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1) 
Author: Philip Pullman
Publish Date: October 19, 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf
# of Pages: 464
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Buy it*: Amazon


(From Goodreads) 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; an Egyptian 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.

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.


Rating (1-10, 10 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing – 9
Pace – 6
Plot Development – 7
Ending – 6
Characters – 8
Enjoyability – 8
Ease of Reading – 8

Overall Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman features Malcolm, an inquisitive young boy who gets swept up in a journey of dust and intrigue.

I had the pleasure of buddy-reading this book with Books in the Skye, which was a lot of fun! As to be expected, the book was well-written. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the His Dark Materials series many years ago, so I expected great things with this prequel. While it didn’t blow me away, it was still a good first book in the series, and I’m eager to find out what happens next.

The pacing of the book was slow at times, especially during the first half of the book. It was heavy on details, light on action. While I appreciated the world-buiding, it was a struggle at times to stay engaged. The second half of the book more than made up for the first half. It was an intense and harrowing ride following Malcolm, Alice, and Lyra as they paddled and battled for their lives.

The Book of Dust‘s story concept was interesting, and the plot development was thoughtfully constructed. The idea of daemons is so intriguing–I loved that about the His Dark Materials books as well. It’s fun thinking about what your own daemon would be. I think mine would be either a cat or a fox.  I hope to learn more about dust and Dr. Relf as the series progresses.

The ending of the book was just okay. It ended on a positive note, but there’s so many loose ends that I want tied up now. For that reason, I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

The characters were well-developed and rich with detail, especially Malcolm and Alice’s characters. Malcolm is so clever and eager to learn–I loved watching his character develop throughout the course of the book and enjoyed seeing his bond with Lyra grow. Alice can be petulant at times, but she’s also caring and brave. I’m very interested in seeing her character in future books.

Overall, this was an entertaining read. If you enjoyed reading His Dark Materials, this book would be worth the read.


“The pleasure of knowing secrets was doubled by telling them to people.”

Let’s Talk!

Have you read His Dark Materials or The Book of Dust? What did you think? If you had a daemon, what do you think yours would be?

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