Saturday, February 28, 2009

#50 - "Shadow in the North" by Philip Pullman

When I started reading this book, I wondered why I had even bothered picking up the second book in the Sally Lockhart Trilogy by Phillip Pullman. It's not that Shadow in the North (1986) was bad, but the story was taking awhile to get started and it felt a little disjointed and forced. However the story picked up about halfway through and damn if Pullman didn't just suck me right into those characters' lives and make me care about them. He has a way of sneaking up on you, bringing adult themes into young adult novels that hit you harder than you would anticipate. And now I remember why I picked up the second book in the first place and why I will soon read the final novel. These novels might start a little slow and I still prefer Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy, but they're still worth reading.

A number of years have passed since the first book of the trilogy and now it is 1878 in England and Sally Lockhart has studied at Oxford and started her own financial company, both quite unorthodox for women of that time. Fred and Jim, who were introduced in the first book, have become friends and started their own private investigative firm. Circumstances surrounding a client of Sally's as well an enigmatic magician who Jim meets draws them into a new mystery in need of solving. In addition, the burgeoning relationship between Sally and Fred, begun in the first book, has hit some rocks because Sally is not sure how she feels about Fred and is wary of giving up her independence.

The end of this book certainly made up for its slow beginning. There are a number of characters that I enjoyed reading about in the first book whose absence goes unexplained in the second, which I found kind of annoying; but this was perhaps understandable with so much passage of time between the two stories. And maybe the characters will make a reappearance in the final book. I just happened to notice that Shadow in the North is available on Netflix; it is classified as "television." While I read the book, I was thinking it would make a good movie, but I have no idea who made this version of the story, or if it's good, and I'm kind of afraid it will ruin the images in my mind.

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