If you loved Pullman's His Dark Materials series, as I did, you absolutely must read this new series! It was like putting on your favorite, comfy pajamas jumping back into the rich alternate reality of Lyra's Oxford. Of course, this is a prequel to the other series, so Lyra is just a baby. The main character is Malcolm, an industrious boy who helps his parents at their inn, does odd jobs for the nuns nearby and jack-of-all-trades tasks up and down the river. His trusty canoe, La Belle Sauvage, affords him the luxury of accomplishing this in quick fashion. Strange folk and rumors are moving through his parents' inn and Malcolm gets absorbed in a dangerous mission to protect the mysterious baby that is being sheltered at the nuns' priory.
This was an absorbing, beautifully written story and I can't wait for the next one in this series!