Philip Pullman is one of the world’s most popular and original authors, read by young adults and adults alike. Containing an astonishing cast of characters, from scholarly Oxford dons to armored bears, witches, angels, murderous Spectres and hideous harpies drawn straight from Greek mythology, Pullman’s fiction can be read at many levels. Darkness Visible looks at the world of Philip Pullman from the flamboyant Sally Lockhart series and the award winning Clockwork and I Was a Rat!, to his epic and internationally bestselling Dark Materials Trilogy. It shows the diverse influences – from Milton and Blake to comic books and radio drama – that have shaped his writing and uncovers the part played by Pullman’s unconventional childhood.
This review will be a little different from my normal reviews because I very rarely read non fiction books. When I was offered the chance to read and review this book I couldn’t turn down the opportunity because the His Dark Materials series is one of my all time favourites. And I also thought this would be a nice little refresher on the series, readying me for the new book when its released.
The first part of the book is about Philip Pullman and all the books he has written, not just His Dark Materials. I found his to be interesting, but it felt like a lot of information to take in. Even though His Dark Materials is one of my favourite series, I have never read anything else by Philip Pullman. I think this is why I found it hard to read through the first part of the book because it was about books I have never read. Perhaps if I had read more books I would be able to understand and take in the information a little bit more.
I did enjoy reading about Philip Pullman and his life and how he grew up and how that shaped some of the themes that featured in his books. I don’t normally like reading biographies, but I really enjoyed reading this part of the book because it was entirely new to me. Before starting this book I knew next to nothing about Philip Pullman, but by the end I felt like I had learn quite a bit, and most of it was very interesting. I also liked that the book included photos of Philip and his family, it felt a little more personal.
The second part of Darkness Visible is more about His Dark Materials. It gives a general recap on Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I found the recaps had enough information and detail to give the reader a little refresher of the series. Obviously it would be better to read the amazing books again, but if you don’t have the time, these recaps give you all the information you need.
The book then moves on to talk about the characters and the themes that feature in the series in a little bit more detail. I found this part of the book to be interesting also because it told me things about the series I did not know and again I found it to be really interesting and insightful. Then at the end of the book there is a very recent interview between the author and Philip Pullman, where they talk about the books, the new TV series and the new book in the series.
As I said at the beginning I don’t normally read non fiction books, so I wasn’t too sure on what to expect before starting this. The first part of the book was a little tough to get through, but once it got to the part about His Dark Materials I found it to be really insightful, informative and very interesting. I read this book hoping it would refresh my memory for the next book in the His Dark Materials series, and on a whole it has. I would definitely recommend this book to all lovers of Philip Pullman works.
I rate this book 4/5 stars
***I was sent a copy of this book to review. Everything in this review is my own honest opinions.***