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Fantastical Worlds: What to Read After His Dark Materials

Posted on 4th December 2019 by Mark Skinner

As the stellar BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials reaches its dramatic conclusion on Sunday night, many addicted viewers will have been reading Philip Pullman's original trilogy alongside devouring each episode. If you have already gorged on the manifold delights of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, then you may be on the hunt for other sophisticated Young Adult fantasy with a touch of Pullman-esque magic. The books below all come with a cast-iron guarantee of immersive world-building, memorable characterisation and thrilling plot dynamics. Dive in...   

Obviously it goes without saying that the first port of call after turning the final page of the majestic The Amber Spyglass should be Pullman's own 'equel' to the trilogy, The Book of Dust. A stunning return to form every bit as impressive as His Dark Materials itself, La Belle Sauvage claimed the coveted Waterstones Book of the Year title in 2017.

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Winner of the Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 - Seventeen years after Philip Pullman’s third volume of His Dark Materials trilogy sealed the door on Dust, daemons, witches and armoured bears, a tantalising new chapter now lies open with La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One.
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Published this October, the second instalment of The Book of Dust, The Secret Commonwealth, built upon the brilliance of La Belle Sauvage, sending the indomitable Lyra east in fresh, evocatively realised adventures. 

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The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two, intertwines the stories of Lyra Silvertongue and Malcom Polstead as they face new and dangerous secrets.
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But if you have read all there is to read about daemons, alethiometers and the Magisterium, then the titles below come very highly recommended. 

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Whilst it may be the second book in the seminal dark fantasy sequence, The Dark is Rising remains the perfect jumping off point for Cooper’s brilliantly nuanced narrative. Pitching its eleven-year old protagonist into a sinister world of twisted folklore and mythic evil, this is truly one of the building blocks of Young Adult fiction.
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As one of the undisputed titans of science fiction and fantasy, Ursula K. le Guin opened up both genres to countless younger readers. The Wizard of Earthsea and its remarkably accomplished sequels possess all the pin-sharp prose and questioning intelligence of her adult work and have proved an incalculable influence on the fantasy genre ever since.
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Nobody writes quite like Alan Garner and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is a stunning example of his maverick assimilation of folk horror, psycho-geography and ancient lore. A thrilling tale of the uncanny and phantasmagoric set in the evocative heart of the Cheshire countryside, Garner’s masterful work is a thoroughly immersive journey into archaic magic and mystery.
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The electrifying first novel in Philip Reeve’s electrifying series, Mortal Engines is a modern steam-punk masterpiece, blending science fiction, adventure and wonderful strangeness. Built on the genius central conceit of motorised, airborne cities pursuing each other across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, this is a dazzling work of imagination and storytelling.
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A magisterial maritime fantasy from the Costa Award-winning Frances Hardinge, Deeplight probes the treacherous undertow of obsession and greed. Wrapped tight in evocative prose and sinuous, slithering atmosphere, this is a marvel of construction and technique.
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A runaway French hit, this opening novel in Christelle Dabos’ The Mirror Visitor quartet is reminiscent of His Dark Materials in its scope and vision. Ethereal and impossibly romantic, Winter’s Promise is set in a world of floating arks and courtly intrigue rendered with grace and majesty. A magnificent opening to what promises to be a landmark series.
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Told with wit, pace and engaging characterisation, this bewitching romp around an alternate modern-day London in the company of magicians and genies forms the first chapter of Stroud’s intoxicating Bartimaeus sequence. Brimming with allusions to folklore, myth and magical artefacts, The Amulet of Samarkand is one of the finest YA fantasy novels of the twenty-first century.
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A powerful, prescient allegory for a society that discards the merest sliver of privacy, the first installment of Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy is a breath-taking read that has become a modern classic of the YA genre.
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Screenwriter, playwright and contemporary novelist Nicholson turns his hand to teen fantasy with glorious results in this bold, intricately imagined epic that tackles themes of class, freedom and identity with aplomb.

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Deftly interweaving feudal Japanese history with a richly imagined fantasy universe, Across the Nightingale Floor tells an epic saga of assassins, honour and forbidden love with exhilarating pace and momentum. Sharp and violent yet delicate and poised, the opening volume of The Tales of the Otori sequence is mesmerisingly good.
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