Review: The Subtle Knife Graphic Novel

Author: Philip Pullman
Adapted by: Stephanie Melchior
Artist: Thomas Gilbert
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released: January 18, 2021
Received: NetGalley

Are you a fan of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman? Well, did you know that there’s a graphic novel adaptation of the series in the works? I certainly didn’t! It wasn’t until I spotted The Subtle Knife on NetGalley that I realized this fantastic creation existed.

The Subtle Knife is the second novel in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, which is also the second novel in the adaptation set. I was a bit surprised to see that the adaptations are one-to-one. Given the density of the source material, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it took several volumes to get the story out.

So I’m going to have to give major credit to Stephanie Melchoir. Not only did she tackle a pretty daunting task (adapting Pullman’s works), but she was able to effortlessly streamline the series. Yet it never felt like anything was cut. Likely because many of the details turned into visual elements – always a delight if you ask me.

I’m always excited to see an adaptation when it occurs, even if they don’t always live up to my hopes. I am happy to say that The Subtle Knife‘s graphic novel doesn’t disappoint – every key scene made its way onto the pages, including several of my favorites!

However, I’ll confess that not all characters looked how I pictured them in my mind. Perhaps that is because it has been so long? I should have re-read the novels first. That would have given me a better baseline here.

Overall, I was very pleased with Thomas Gilbert’s artwork. It was stunning at times and a perfect fit for the tone of the series. I hope he is the artist for the other adaptations as well.

Long story short, if you love adaptations, want a visual retelling of The Subtle Knife, or simply need a refresher on the series, please do consider giving the graphic novel adaptations a read.

Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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