©1982 Philip Pullman; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group
"Dashing, sparkling, and wildly over-the-top fun." (Publishers Weekly)
"An energetic combination of melodrama, suspense, horror, and comedy." (Booklist)
"Using multiple narrators and expertly concocted cliffhangers, Pullman crafts a thrilling page-turner." (Kirkus Reviews)
"The pacing is delightful, with horrific crescendos every few chapters, and comic relief in the others." (School Library Journal)
If you come to this expecting to find something along the lines of His Dark Materials, you'll be disappointed. But I get the feeling some people rate this lower because it's a different sort of book than they wanted... you can't blame the book for misplaced expectations. This is beautifully read with sound effects and effective music which, for once, doesn't overwhelm the reading. This is definitely a children's tale in the great fairy tale tradition, with truly nasty villains, supernatural forces, plucky heroes who triumph over their own foibles, and a happy ending (I'm sure that isn't a spoiler). I've listened twice and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I have all of Philip Pullman's books. Come in expecting a charming and fun tale and you won't regret that you did.
We are enjoying this story really. But, all things considered, it is a bit disappointing. The naming of people is a bit trite, if mildy amusing. My major complaint though lies with the audio quality. We have listened to dozens of audible books, as well as libray audio books, but have never encountered such troubles with volume differentiation. The narrator is loud and clear, and then we can't hear the dialogue done by the cast. So I crank the volume on the car stereo up, and AAAAHHH! the narrator comes back and blows us out of our seat belts. An unsettling problem. I am having trouble getting into the book, perhaps only because of this. My girls, 11 and 13, are enjoying it, despite the difficulties.
We listened to this on a family ski trip so the mountains,snow and rocky crags meshed with the story well.
I love Philip Pullman and was not disappointed.
The production was mostly good but as a New Zealander I find English productions tend to lazily lapse into class conscious interpretations of texts. So for example Hildie and Peters mother spoke with a working class London accent which leads to the constantly distracting thought "what is a Cockney doing in the Swiss alps?" . It is quite off putting. As is usual in UK productions stupid or simple people have strong working class accents. Having grown up with English culture I totally get this but I think UK people do this unconsciously and I find it grating.
Similarly Hlldie was a bit too well spoken, she sounded too much like the highly trained, perfectly enunciating actress that I expect she was. I understand that this is a cast production rather than a straight audio book but I find actors have a tendency to overdo their performances. Over the course of several hours this gets a bit annoying.
Charlottes voice had clearly been played around with in production and sounded like a chipmunk. Most of the cast were good especially Dr Cadavarezzi, Snivelwurst and Count Karlstein.
As an audio book junkie I am quibbling. I recommend the book.
This was not one of Pullman's best books. I loved the Golden Compass and the other books that followed. He tried too hard to be different..we did not even listen to the last 50 min. A real disappointment.
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