Book Review: La Belle Sauvage

Title: La Belle Sauvage

Author: Philip Pullman

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Published: By Random House Children’s Publishers UK on October 19th, 2017

ISBN13: 9780385654081

Grade: Outstanding

La Belle Sauvage (Book Review)


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; a gyptian 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 chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

I was super excited to learn there would be more books my Philip Pullman and I somehow got a special edition for this, which added to the excitement so much that I read the book with gloves on so that the gold glitter on the cover doesn’t fade. I’m sure that should give you a pretty good idea about how hyped I was for this book.

It did deliver on most fronts, but I was a little let down as well, which is why it didn’t get a perfect rating. First off, the characters in this, as in the original trilogy were amazing. Malcolm was intelligent, resourceful, strong and had a protective streak that made him extremely likeable. Alice was a firecracker and she grew on me. The antagonist and his daemon were absolutely terrifying and I was constantly worried about the well-being of my darlings. The plot was where it fell a little short. It started off great but at the 60-90% mark it kind of meandered into something so fantastic that I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. It left me very confused and I wish all that had been explained logically before the book ended. The setting was masterfully done and it made me fall in love with the world that Pullman has created all over again. I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in this series and hoping it’ll answer some of the questions I had at the end of this book. I definitely need a re-read of the original trilogy before that though because I’ve forgotten most of the details and since the plot is going to pick up from where the previous trilogy left off, I’d like to be prepared.

Fans of Pullman should not miss this one and for the newbies, I’d recommend reading His Dark Materials first and then jumping on to this book. For the music, I think some Western classic instrumental or chamber music should pair well with this. For the food, go English this time with some classic tea-time food to snack on while reading this.

Book: Publisher’s Website | Goodreads | Wordery

Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Have you read this book? Have you read the original trilogy? If so, what did you think? Do you own any signed copies or special editions of any book? Let me know in the comments section below.

12 thoughts on “Book Review: La Belle Sauvage

    1. Thank you! 🙂 He really is a very famous, not-to-miss children’s fantasy book author. I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy the original trilogy as much now that I’m older, but the world has still left a pretty big impact on me. I hope the next few books planned in this series are better because they go back to following the same main character as from the original trilogy and I can’t wait to have the next one in my hands! 😅 I hope you love his books as much as I do when you get around to reading them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with you on how messy the last quarter or so of La Bella Sauvage was. It didn’t ruin my overall opinion of the book (I really enjoyed the book up until that point), but… Yeah. I was really surprised by how rushed, chaotic, and/or confusing the last few chapters were. And the ending – I guess you could call it a cliffhanger, but it offered very little closure in terms of what happened to Malcolm and Sally (was that the girl’s name? I forget now…) at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The last part of the book didn’t really fit in with the rest of the story. It had a lot more fantastical elements that weren’t fully explored and felt like they came out of nowhere. Yes, it didn’t have all the answers at the end either. I’m really hoping the next book will help us make sense of all this but I’m not sure because it will follow Lyra again and it’s unlikely that her childhood rescue mission will play a part in this later story. I’m very excited to see how Lyra and Pan have grown throughout the years! I hope the next one doesn’t disappoint. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

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