Book Review - Count Karlstein by Phillip Pullman

Friday, April 2, 2010

In an effort to get started on the What's in a Name Challenge I picked up Count Karlstein by Phillip Pullman on audio at my local library. I had never read a Phillip Pullman novel for the simple reason that his adult novels are really nothing like what I normally read so I just pass them over in the bookstore. This one being a young adult novel (recommended ages 9-12) I decided to give it a try. In short, I liked it. I wasn't swept away by it to the point that I would go pick up his adult books but found it pleasant and mildly entertaining.


From Amazon Review:
"I might have occupied my mind usefully with Improving Thoughts, but the only improvement I could imagine then was a pair of wings, to enable me to fly to freedom. And, of course, a Head for Heights. I cleaned the dust from the window and peered out hopefully, but there was nothing but a Horrid Precipice, with jagged crags several thousands of feet below." Such are the woes of young Charlotte, locked in a tower room of her uncle's gloomy Castle Karlstein in 19th-century Switzerland. Escaping this predicament seems the least of her worries: in a solemn blood pact, her evil uncle, Count Karlstein, has promised to sacrifice his two orphaned nieces, Lucy and Charlotte, to Zamiel the Demon Huntsman--on midnight of All Souls' Eve--in return for his current riches.
First, however, the heartless Count and his "lip-licking, moist-handed, creeping, smarming" secretary, Herr Arturo Snivelwurst, will have to catch Lucy, too--and it is no small task with the headstrong, 14-year-old Hildi Kelmar; her 18-year-old, handsome-in-a-scowling-sort-of-way brother, Peter; and the intrepid English teacher Miss Augusta Davenport on the girls' side. As Miss Davenport herself points out, "an English gentlewoman can rise above any circumstances, given intelligence and a loaded pistol." The events in this delightful gothic farce unfold quickly in a variety of narrative voices, artfully building in suspense to a powerful, terrifying, deeply satisfying stand-off between the Count and the Demon Huntsman of Impenetrable Darkness himself. Subplots and loose ends are gracefully, happily, justly tied up in the light of day, finally allowing readers to exhale."

I am glad that the What's in a Name Challenge brought me to finally read a Philip Pullman book but I don't think I'll be doing it again any time soon.


1. Food

2. Plant

3. Title

4. Place Name

5. Body of Water

6. Music Term


Currently "Reading":
Book - The Adventures of Doctor Who. Omnibus comprising: Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks; Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen; Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster by Terrance Dicks
E-Book - The Man Upstairs & Other Stories - From the Manor Wodehouse Collection, a selection from the early works of P. G. Wodehouse by P.G. Wodehouse
Audio - The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith

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