Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Learn more Fitbit

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 15 September 2015
Great, blood-curling storyline! Fantastic atmosphere! Graphics enhance Pullman's text. Highly recommended for readers 9-12 years old.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 September 2014
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.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 June 2013
I am a huge fan of Philip Pullman's work, yes most notably his His Dark Materials trilogy, but his whole YA fiction in general surpasses most Author's attempts. He has a knack for coming up with brilliantly told, well structured and complex plots, filled with more twists and turns than you can shake your fist at. Now apparently, unbeknown to me, Count Karlstein (first published in 1982) was Pullman's very first children's and Young Adult novel. I was extremely eager to read it, as you can probably imagine.

Count Karlstein tells the story of Hildi, a maidservant to the Count. The story is set in a little Swiss village and right from the off, we are told of this awful sinister plot to sacrifice his nieces, Charlotte and Lucy. And so sets off an important string of events as Hildi helps the girls escape and go into hiding, for on All Souls Eve, the demon huntsman himself, will show his wrath and feed upon anyone he crosses.

The story itself is told in three parts. The first and third parts are told in Hildi's perspective, whereas part two is told from multiple characters' points of view. This is an interesting way to do things and actually it works quite well, because we can get to see alternate views about the goings on. You can see why originally, Count Karlstein was actually a play, first devised when Pullman was an English teacher.

Of course, every character in the story has their own story arc, not just about Count Karlstein's plan. For example, Hildi's exiled brother, Peter is on the run from the law and he's in hiding at the Jolly Huntsman, their mother's inn. Peter dreams of winning the shooting contest, where he will be declared a free man and no longer have to worry about the police catching up with him.

There's a whole supernatural element to this story, with a demon huntsman and all and though perhaps the story is a little unoriginal, it has a completely new telling; fresh and very easy to follow. It gives this gothic tale a fantasy element and it is done so subtly that it works very well indeed. But perhaps what also is intriguing is the inclusion of Doctor Cadaverezzi and his Cabinet of Wonders. He is a travelling magician of sorts, performing shows for the locals. There just seems to be a whole variety of characters to take a liking too.

Characterisation plays a huge part in this story. Miss Charlotte and Miss Lucy are obviously upper-class children, acutely educated and speak above their young years. Max, Doctor Cadaverezzi's assistant, is perhaps more common and being an orphan means he had to grown up quite quickly and find work. Miss Davenport adds a touch of feminism into the story and reinforces certain values of what is expected such as morals and standards. But no matter who the characters are, Pullman writes with such wit and humour that it is an absorbing read.

And it is this humour that will attract the children. He creates stupid and slapstick policeman that fall foul of the situation and usually find themselves as the victims of some rather funny pranks. The whole book reads like a yarn or fairytale and this is why when read aloud, the world of magic really comes alive.

Although I did love this book, there were certain parts I felt let the book down. The first of which is that I felt the book had so much potential and actually could have been a little longer, giving some story arcs some more action. Doctor Cadaverezzi and his Cabinet of Wonders are introduced as if they are important to the plot, and although there is a twist here, much, much more could have been done. It felt restricted at times, as if Pullman ran out of ideas. His demon huntsman, who is mentioned throughout, only gets minimal inclusion and a more action-orientated ending could have turned this into a great modern fairytale.

And perhaps more surprisingly I found myself shocked at one piece of language. The violence is actually quite toned down here, often coming across more slapstick than actually sinister and Pullman actually creates more of a thriller through tension and situation rather than the actual fights. But late in to the book, as Count Karlstein, he uses the word "slut" when describing Hildi. This was extremely inappropriate, especially when this book is marketed towards older children.

On the whole though, despite some misgivings, I felt Count Karlstein was a gripping tale, lots of psychological tension used to great effect and a whole cast of characters that are appealing and well voiced. When read aloud, Count Karlstein really does come alive and it's a book that will hold many age groups. It is a slightly gothic tale that mixes both tricks and paranormal beliefs, with more traditional behaviour and traditions. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I hope you do too.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Philip Pullman is obviously best known for his DARK MATERIALS trilogy, but he was writing stories long before that became published. COUNT KARLSTEIN, as Pullman explains in the introduction, was originally a story he wrote for a school play (he used to be a teacher) and it is a great story. It includes a Demon Huntsman, but it is not this character who is central to the tale.

The story's first narrator is a young girl called Hildi who works as a servant at Castle Karlstein. She begins the tale of the Count, who she works for, and his young charges, two young girls who he would rather not have the responsibility for. The story is full of strange and funny characters - there are police officers who seem more than a little inept; there is a trickster on the run from the law, who has a strange and magic cabinet of curiosities to name just a few. But it is Count Karlstein, as the title suggests, who is the driving force behind the tale, as Hildi and a host of others explain his pact with the Demon Huntsman.

It is a really enjoyable tale. There are touches of Gothic horror and comedy which readers both young and old should enjoy.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 October 2005
This review is about the audiobook this is a good story for a first try at a kids book if you've read or listened to the Sally Lockhart stories this is a good buy also it's different but well worth the money and it's 5.5 hours split of five discs with well known audiobook actors.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 March 1999
I bought this book for my grandson's 8th birthday, and I feel it's his opinion that counts.
Dominic's comment. terse and to the point:"It's BRILLIANT"
I'm only an adult and not supposed to read children's books, but I admire Philip Pullman very much, and I thought the book was hilarious and original in its mix of cartoons and prose.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Philip Pullman is one of the most skilled writer's working today and I thought that this story was very entertaining but didn't show what he was really capable of. I found the cartoons interrupted the flow of the story, although I suspect a child might enjoy them very much. The story was very sophisticated. I love the way it appeals to adults and children - as all good books should.
11 Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 December 2014
A children's book that likes to challenge children and is also an enjoyable read for the adults as well.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 July 2010
Having read Phillip Pullman before I anticipated I'd like the book. I did. It was set at a fast pace; witty; engaging, exciting and unpredictable right to the end. There are some laugh-out-loud names and the conclusion is very satifying. Full marks as ever to Mr. Pullman.Anyone over 8 would like it!!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Need customer service? Click here