The Secret Commonwealth is book 2 in the Book Of Dust series by Philip Pullman. There’s been a time jump since book one, and it follows on from His Dark Materials, although there’s been a time jump since that wrapped up.
What I Liked
There’s a lot to like, but most importantly, Lyra’s back! Throw in the fact that Malcolm is here for the ride as well and you’ve got a pretty good set up as I was extremely excited to see where their lives had led so far.
There’s a lot of world building and The Secret Commonwealth focuses a lot more on new regions, while also shedding more light on the Magisterium, which is a lot of fun.
As always, there’s a lot of detail and plenty of tension throughout, and the way the world is built, combining elements of our own world with fantasy works nicely.
What I disliked
Honestly, it felt really depressing. There’s so much going wrong in this and it almost feels like it’s trying too hard to really focus on everything wrong with the real world. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it drags these amazing characters down into what can only be described as a pit of depression, it just feels a bit of a drag.
Most of the characters spend no time together, and it was those relationships and conversations that made previous books really shine. Everyone here seems to be a loner.
The biggest dislike I had was that it felt like a story was being told that didn’t need to be told. I wasn’t really sure where anything was leading, and even when things started to build up towards the end, things just stop, and that’s it. I had very few burning questions left and was just left feeling indifferent.
I’m a huge fan of this world that’s been created and I absolutely adored the first book, but the second one felt tedious throughout which is a real shame. I wanted to love it like I have every other book that came before it, but I didn’t end up walking away felling that.
Hopefully it’s all just setting the scene and building up to something incredible for book three, but I’m still not really sure where the story is heading.
It’s worth a read just to be up to date on the story, and the third one isn’t too far away. Here’s hoping some of the magic and hope returns for the closing book!