“The Subtle Knife” is the second book in the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Lyra – and several friends in unusual places – is still vital, and so is Will. Will is from our world, and he needs to find his father – an explorer who found something powerful enemies wanted, and hasn’t been seen since.
They spend quite a bit of time in a third world, where Spectres suck the souls from adults, and as a result children are left largely to themselves until they grow up.
Every time I read any of this series, I’m stunned at the power of the writing.
In some ways this book is complete, but it isn’t really. You do need to read the whole trilogy. It’s also here that you realise that the Christian church of the novel (in all the worlds) isn’t just a handy bad guy – the author’s hatred for it in real life comes through clearly.
“Will had first realised his mother was different from other people, and he had to look after her, when he was seven. They were in a supermarket, and they were playing a game: they were only allowed to put an item in the cart when no one was looking. It was Will’s job to look all around and whisper “Now,” and she would snatch a tin or a packet from the shelf and put it silently in the cart. When things were in there they were safe, because they became invisible.”