Lyra Belacqua has grown up at Oxford Collage, raised by various scholars but spending most of her time running wild with her daemon Pantalimon at her side. She and her best friend Roger explore every inch of the collage together, playing games (and occasional tricks) to their heart’s content. She is perfectly happy and never wants to leave, but her world is changing. Children disappearing, a mysterious new substance, and rumors of disturbing experiments are all part of something that could bring the earth to a very dark place, and as Lyra discovers, only she can stop it. With the help of an armored bear, her faithful daemon, and a mystical tool that she only half understands, she sets out on a journey which will take her to the edge of the world—and beyond.
The Golden Compass is one of my favorite stories for several reasons. First of all, Lyra is a brilliant heroine, the sort you just can’t help but fall in love with. Second, the writing and plotting are excellent. And third, unexpected twists, clever villains, and daring escapes made it remarkably hard to put down. It’s the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, which I have been enjoying, although each book is very different. It has some darker parts, so I would recommend it to readers ages ten and up, particularly fans of Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series (reviewed May 2017) and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence (reviewed February 2017).
Note: This book is awesome on audio, so if you like audiobooks, this is for you!