Review of Serpentine by Phillip Pullman

For those that enjoyed the series His Dark Materials comes a much shorter tale of Lyra Silvertongue. Written by Philip Pullman and illustrated by Tom Duxbury, this very short story takes place sometime after the events of The Amber Spyglass.

It was a short read. I started and finished it while waiting in a doctor’s office. Which, in retrospect, isn’t an indication on how long it would take someone to read it. For me, it was less than an hour. However, having read Pullman’s other books, I was familiar with the characters, plot, and locations. Having enjoyed the past books, I devoured Serpentine much like a snake devours a mouse. In one quick gulp.

Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, journey to the north to talk with the witches and seek their consul regarding a very personal matter.

With about sixty-eight pages of storytelling, Pullman is able to craft a story that is both stand alone and sequel. It’s a tale that delves into the relationship between man and daemon. It’s a tale that goes beyond the fictional realm and discusses the matter of separation. It’s a tale that discusses what happens when relations encounter rough patches and how people overcome them.

The illustrations in the book are plentiful and lovely. Duxbury illustrates Lyra and Pan’s adventure to the north in simple black and white art that accompanies Pullman’s narrative on each page turn.

If you’re expecting some massive character growth from Lyra and/or Pan, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Readers shouldn’t expect battles between bear kings or aerial battles with witches. By the end, while they may be the same characters, they’ve developed their own relationship.

It’s a simple story featuring two beloved characters, illustrated in the same simple manner. For those that are fans of the prior series, this will be a nice welcoming return to Lyra’s world. For those that have never read a single page before picking up Serpentine, it will be an odd introduction but one with a very relatable message.

Just like the story, I will keep this review brief. Now, go read Serpentine! It’ll only take a few minutes, but you’ll remember it for longer than that.

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James Master

A natural born reader, James tackled the works of Stephen King and Michael Crichton when he was in the sixth grade. His influential young mind, now twisted by the science fiction and horror genre, James did what any respectable young man would. He began crafting stories. Instead of playing in recess, James would write stories about dinosaurs and serial killers. He hasn’t stopped writing or reading which is where his path crossed with Burning Willow Press, LLC. Ironically enough, you can find James’s first published work, “The Dark Forest,” in the anthology “Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends” published by Burning Willow Press. His first book, “The Book of Roland” published Feb. 25, 2017, is a 2017 Summer Indie Book Award nominee. It is the first of seven in the Soul Eater Chronicles and it is centered around a katana wielding, gunslinging, pop culture referencing monk named Timothy as he fights the incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins. His next book, “The Book of Mark”, is scheduled to come out early 2018. James graduated from Indiana University South Bend with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Minor in Film Studies in 2015. By day, James works as a mild-mannered reporter for The Pilot News as well as an editor for the weekly paper The News-Mirror. By night, he works for BWP reading submissions or writing his own works.
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