I will not write too much about this book this time. Only sharing a little about why I loved it so. First there is the stunning writing. As getting lost in this world is the easiest thing. And getting to know all of the characters is the best. They are all amazing and are all fully complicated. And oh. This book has the most horrible villain.
La Belle Sauvage takes place before His Dark Materials. When Lyra is just a baby, less than a year old. We learn so much about what happened to her as a child. We learn more about Lord Asriel too, whom I still have a love-hate relationship with. He was better in this book, in the past. And he did seem to really love his baby Lyra. Sigh. Which makes it even more sad, what happens in the first books. Hmph. Rude. But he is not in this book all that much at all. Because this is the story of eleven year old Malcolm. And his kind of enemy, Alice. It is sort of also the story about a woman named Hannah, though we never learned what happened to her, which is kind of depressing. I wanted to know more about her. And more about everyone. This was so not long enough.
It is the story of Malcolm. His parents work and live at a pub and he helps out there. He has a good and quiet life. He helps out with the nuns at the priory right across the bridge too. And reading about his great friendship with the nuns was all kinds of fun. I adored them all. And I loved how he cared for them. But oh gosh. Just realized that we were never told who died in the flood. Which is all kinds of rude. I must know. How sad. Hmph. Anyway. The nuns were awesome and I liked reading about the priory and the pub too.
I shall not say much more about the story. Malcolm ends up meeting baby Lyra, as she is to stay with the nuns for a while. And he adores her right away. Which I loved so much. Well, I loved it, until I know what happens in the next book. Ugh. I am not pleased. At all. Malcolm was like her older brother in a way, her protector. He took such good care of Lyra in this book. He saved her and kept her safe for days. Which was all kinds of hard to read about but so good and interesting as well. They went through so very much.
And Alice was there through all of it. This girl was all kinds of complicated. Fierce and rude at first. But fierce and kind inside when the book moves forward a bit. I loved reading about her and getting to know her. But oh, how she met the villain of this book ruined my heart. The poor girl and all she needed to go through. It was not fair at all. She was so strong and awesome, though. I so loved the growing friendship between Alice and Malcolm. They were pretty much adorable together. And I loved them both so much.
I simply cannot get over the villain in this story. He was beyond horrible and cruel and truly awful to read about. And also just the worst. He is after Malcolm and Alice. Because they are protecting baby Lyra, and he wants her, for reasons unknown. But this villain is all kinds of scary and dangerous. He looks nice. But he had a hyena dæmon. And not a nice one. It was awful to read about. Some scenes with them together was simply too much. But written well too. This villain was done well, and I did like that there was a villain.
I shall now not say much more about this book. Only that I very much enjoyed my second read of it. And I am glad I finally made myself re-read it. I'm such a slow reader these days. But even though it took a long time to read, it was worth it. This book was still every bit as precious as it was the first time I read it. And I loved that so much. Okay, nothing will ever be as good as the Lyra and Will books, but this new one was great too. I simply adored reading about Malcolm and Alice and their dæmons and their life. So amazing.
I must admit that I have taken so long to re-read La Belle Sauvage because I have been nervous about starting The Secret Commonwealth next. I have heard some bad things. And I peeked and I read even worse things. Which is making my heart break, because I wanted this new book so badly. And now I'm almost too nervous to read it, ha. But I will. And I know that I will love parts of it, because of this stunning world, but I also know that I will hate parts of it, which I have never done with a Philip book before. Oh.
And so I am nervous. But I am excited too. And having re-read these four precious books first have still been the best thing. Because nothing will make me stop loving these books. As they are all precious and perfect and I love them beyond words. Though, well. I loved Malcolm to pieces in this one. I will not love him in the next book. Which hurts me so much. But even so. I will always have this book to love and so I shall be happy about that. Because La Belle Sauvage was still perfect. And you all must read it now too.