When I first read Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, I was hooked: it was fantastical, infinitely charming, and accessible, yet dealt with issues of great weight and consequence. A decade later and The Book Dust, a prequel to the original trilogy, although I have not yet finished reading it, promises not to disappoint. Pullman writes with clarity and warmth and his world is sharply defined: ever so similar to our own, and yet seized of a strangeness that turns on subtle differences and exudes intrigue and wonder. The Book of Dust’s protagonist, 11-year-old Malcolm Polmstead is inquisitive, precocious, and likable; through Malcolm, Pullman assures the reader that he or she will be in very fine company for this particular journey, touted as an exploration into the marvel of consciousness. With Malcolm as my skipper on his boat La Belle Sauvage I’m eager to weather the journey with him.