Just finished reading Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, the first part of a story set in three volumes, including The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
I knew little about this book, or the author, but my wife had heard it was a kind of Harry Potter for adults. Well, I enjoyed the first three Harry Potters, even though I felt they cheated a little in just re-vamping the first two or three chapters every time before getting on with the adventure, so I looked forward to this book.
I was not disappointed, and would recommend it to anyone. The book has a couple of central themes (Dust and parallel universes) which are explored through the eyes of 10-year-old Lyra and her daemon. In the book everyone has a daemon, a kind of subconscious twin brought to "animal" form, so no one is ever alone. Children's daemons can take any form they choose, but by the time they reach adulthood they've settled on one particular form that best suits their personalities.
The ideas and imagery are marvelous. Part of the story involves the baddies capturing children and taking them to the far north to separate them from their daemons. There are armoured bears (polars), Gyptians (canal boat Gypsys), witches, cliff-ghasts, you name it. And a compass-shaped alethiometre, which answers Lyra questions for her as long as she asks the right ones.
Thoroughly recommended. I can't wait for the film (if there is one).