Saturday, July 28, 2007

In a Fairy-Tale-ish Sort of Mood

During a recent trip to the movies, I saw a preview for Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. This was a book I received as a gift waaaaay back in 1997 (I know this for sure from the inscription, which begins 'to the girl who always has her nose in a book'. Apparently a decade hasn't changed me all that much). It's fantasy and is the first book in Pullman's trilogy - which, unfortunately, I never finished reading.

I pulled the book out and reread it last night. There are things I didn't know to catch as a thirteen year old, such as the fact that these books are drawn from Milton's Paradise Lost and the controversial subject matter of the Dust, which is supposedly related to original sin. I can't elaborate on that without finishing the books - many mysteries were left unsolved in the first installment. But The Golden Compass is full of adventure and it was fun getting caught up in it again...

As I read it, I realized that it has been a long time since I have read a novel that is purely fantasy. I've reread Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lewis' Narnian books in the past couple of years, but that's about it. It's odd, because as a kid I loved Madeleine L'Engle's science fiction books and I remember devouring Ursela Le Guin's Earthsea series...I think that I have this idea of grown-up fantasy/sci-fi books as books filled with vampires and werewolves and badly written cliches, which doesn't make me want to read them.

I'm hoping that I have misinformed myself...because I enjoy stepping into worlds different from my own and I'm sure that children's literature doesn't have a complete monopoly on good literary fantasy.

So I'm hoping to expand my reading list - if you have any suggestions, please let me know!


Amy Jane said...

Oh my.
Well since you seem to be talking about good "kids'" books, I'll limit my suggestions to that.

The Goose girl (Shannon Hale-- started too slow for me but proved worth it). She wrote Princess Academy too.

Inkheart (Funke) Another slow starter. Don't bother with the sequel, Inkspell, search it on my blog if you want more info.

(I actually found the series you mention in the post to be disturbing--didn't like it).

Raising Dragons (Bryan Davis) two whole series begin here. Unique angle of a Christian making good stories with the idea those fighting the dragon(s) being the evil ones.

Very intriguing.

I read the first Charlie Bone book last week. Liked that-- better-written than the HP books and more age appropriate IMO (of course that's just off one book so far).

And my #1 Recommendation:

The Perilous Gard (Elizabeth Marie Pope)

I have loads more, but just now by bookcase room is dark with sleeping baby. ;)

Eva said...

I loved the His Dark Materials books...very well-written and purely fantasy. I gave up trying to make it into a fable or allegory and just read it for face value. The last book does get pretty dark, and I am not sure I'd want my child reading it without some guidance. But for me, it was great fun. :)

I also enjoyed The Wind on Fire Trilogy, by William Nicholson. Not as rich as some others, but I liked the world he created.

If you like Christian allegory, you might like The Singer Trilogy (what is it with trilogies?) by Calvin Miller. Very powerful images. I haven't read it recently, and I can't vouch for his theology since the last time I read it was probably 15-20 years ago, but it is certainly beautifully written.

Luisa Perkins said...

While I have a deep loathing for the work of Philip Pullman, I can give you a lot of other suggestions based on your L'Engle/Lewis/Tolkien affection.

The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton

East, by Edith Pattou

The Dark is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper

Mister Monday and the rest of the series, by Garth Nix

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

I could go on and on and on....

Keep up with the Proust, girl!

Luisa Perkins said...

BTW, I tagged you for a meme today. I hope you will play!