Philip Pullman’s New Novella Serpentine Follows a Teenage Lyra Belacqua

A new Philip Pullman novella, previously available only in the form of a hand-written manuscript and printed typescript that was auctioned off for charity in 2004, is coming out this fall. Entitled Serpentine, the book follows a teenage Lyra Belacqua between the events of His Dark Materials and The Books of Dust, and will be released simultaneously with an audiobook edition narrated by Olivia Colman.

“Why are we publishing this story now? Because with the development of The Book of Dust, especially after the events described in The Secret Commonwealth, we can see a change in the way Lyra understands herself, and her relationship with Pantalaimon, which is prefigured in this little Arctic episode,” Pullman said in a statement, according to the press release. “When I wrote Serpentine, I had no idea that I was going on to write another trilogy, showing Lyra as an adult, but she and her world wouldn’t leave me alone. When it comes to human affairs, a billion invisible filaments connect us to our own pasts, as well as to the most remote things we can imagine; and I hope that, above all, these books are about being alive and being human.”

Here’s the official synopsis:

In Serpentine, a teenage Lyra returns to the town of Trollesund, the setting of her first encounter with Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. Lyra and Pan are older and a little wiser, and in search of an answer to a shocking, secret condition—their ability to separate—from the witch-consul, Dr. Lanselius. What unfolds is a tender, revelatory scene that foreshadows Lyra’s future struggles as a young woman, and provides insight into Pullman’s own early exploration of a previously unthinkable plot development that would emerge in his The Book of Dust sequence: the idea that a human’s bond with their daemon can be irreparably broken.

Serpentine will be released October 15, 2020 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. It features illustrations by Tom Duxbury.

“frost on the windshield” by Muffet is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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