In it, Lyra is 6 months old and being hunted by henchmen of the Magisterium. The action unfolds in Oxford, but an Oxford unrecognizable from its spire-crowded postcard form — the city is a damp and threatening place of inns and drunks and amiable nuns. For half the book they are all submerged in a catastrophic flood. Malcolm navigates the waters in his canoe and becomes Lyra’s chief protector. After a gentle start, the novel accelerates into an action thriller, with cameos from fairies and river gods. There are boat chases, hints at romance. It will be devoured.
From Sophie Elmhirst’s lovely profile of Philip Pullman in the New York Times.