Northern Lights

Publisher: Scholastic

You may or may not already be familiar with the story of Lyra Belacqua and the similar-yet-different world she lives in - an alternative Oxford where a totalitarian Church is in charge, and where a mysterious organisation is kidnapping children in order to conduct worrying experiments.

There's been a rather wonderful BBC TV adaptation too, where Philip Pullman's complex world of magical and non-magical beings (witches and talking ice bears as well as humans) are rendered in all their glory.

Either way, this lavishly illustrated, large format edition of Pullman's modern classic is thrillingly beautiful and a wonderful gift or addition to anyone's bookshelf, whether to read for the first time or return to as a die-hard fan.

Wormell's woodcut-style illustrations are a perfect illumination of Pullman's often eerie steampunk fantasy story, which is also deeply rooted in recognisable reality. His ice bears are resplendently large, adorable and terrifying at the same time; the double page illustrations, such as Lee Scoresby's hot air balloon and the witches flying over the North Pole and the Aurora Borealis are breathtaking.

Lord Faa rallying the Gyptians to go and find their missing children is full of his red rage, and the illustrations of London at night are dark and chilling, while the pictures of Lyra and ice bear Iorek Byrnison are brimming with tenderness.

A visual treat and a story to wonder at again and again.

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