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Book Review: The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman is a second book in ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. The book is set into two contemporary worlds. One, where normal humans live, and the other where witch, daemon, specter occultist, sorceress, enchantress and other haunting animals and mammals co-exist.


Will Parry, a young boy, is worried about her mentally-ill mother. She is being continuously haunted by some men who often come to his home for searching a green leather case that belonged to his father and that possibly holds something enigmatic of high value. His father has been disappeared before Will’s birth. And Will doesn’t know how his father looked like, not even a picture or media coverage of him. It is bit odd for him. Mother says that his father was an explorer of remote places and Will has the mantle of his father. Soon, he will take the path of his father.

To place his mother under better care, he takes her to the house of Mrs. Cooper, a kind-hearted woman who used to teach him music. After that he returns home, and some men enter his home. Accidentally he kills one of the men. Now, he is on the run: running away from being caught by police.

Then, he enters the other world. That is eerily calm and no one is chasing him there. Soon he encounters a girl: she is half-feral and has a daemon. Her name is Lyra – she says that she is from a different world. So does Will. They both become friends when Lyra through her alethiometer discovers that the boy is neither enemy nor friend but a murderer. And she certainly thinks that a murderer is worth a companion. Lyra is shown bit childish and obstinate as she doesn’t know many things about this world and refuses to clean up the dishes. They both share a room. To remind readers that it is a young fantasy novel. Amid supernatural backdrop, both characters are out and equally lost in search of something or other. Will is determined to find out his father while Lyra has to unravel the theory behind Dust. Well, accidentally they come across a knife called ‘The Subtle Knife’ which will help them to fight against the evil forces and through this knife they can cut an edge and go to their world.

The protagonists of the book (Will and Lyra) are highlighted equally. But still Will outshines her in a faintest way. This fantasy novel is of extraordinary setting with intellectually thrilling plot and the language is like icing on the cake. Superb!!

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