Title: Count Karlstein
Author: Philip Pullman
Page Count/Review Word Count: 243
This is an interesting book with a story behind it – many moons ago, when Pullman was working as a teacher, he used to write and direct the school play. That, then, is how Count Karlstein started out in life, as a play to be performed by the youngsters that he taught – years later, the author decided to rewrite the play and to turn it in to a novel, and I’m glad that he did, too.
In a nutshell, Count Karlstein is an epic children’s novel that mixes comedy, horror and fantasy together in to a modern take on the classic fairly tale, and I can’t recommend it enough – it’s the sort of book that you could read to your kids and enjoy just as much as they do, and indeed some of the humour is targeted specifically at adults.
Pullman has this great knack for writing for a mixed audience – he doesn’t talk down to children as some authors do, he treats them as equals and doesn’t underestimate their intelligence. That’s why his work makes for such good reading at any age, and why he keeps on winning awards – they’re well-deserved, too.
Count Karlstein might not have the finesse of the His Dark Materials trilogy or the murky Victorian intrigue of Pullman’s Sally Lockhart novels, but it still deserves a place on your bookshelf.