Amy Goldschlager Reviews His Dark Materials: Serpentine Audiobook by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials: Serpentine, Philip Pullman; Olivia Colman, narrator (Listening Library 978-0-59339842-5, $8.00, digital download, 25 min., unabridged) October 2020.

Waiting for the third Book of Dust novel is hard, especially after the gorgeous gut-punch that was 2019’s The Secret Commonwealth. To help tide us over, Pullman offers us this extremely brief prelude to that work, written several years ago to benefit a charity auction. In this story, we see how the ability of Lyra Silvertongue to physically sepa­rate herself from her daemon Pantalaimon begins to lead to a more spiritual split between these two halves of a human soul in her teenage years, a division which will ultimately lead to tragedy.

Olivia Colman, best known recently for her por­trayals of two British queens (her Oscar-winning role as Queen Anne in The Favourite and as Queen Elizabeth II in recent seasons of Netflix series The Crown) lends her regal presence to Lyra’s journey to visit Dr. Lanselius, the Consul of the Witches, about her unique condition. While I do miss the presence of Michael Sheen, who voices the Book of Dust novels, Colman is just lovely in this brief, more intimate work.

Amy Goldschlager, Contributing Editor, is an editor, proofreader, and book/audiobook reviewer who has worked for several major publishers. She is a former curator of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series. In addition to her Locus column, she has contributed to the Los Angeles Review of Books, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, AudioFile magazine, and ComicMix. She lives in Brooklyn and exists virtually at

This review and more like it in the January 2021 issue of Locus.

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