The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
Really, Philip Pullman is just taking the piss. I’ve mentioned before that calling this series the Sally Lockhart quartet is something of a misnomer, as she’s little more than a dithering, whining bit-player in the first two books. In The Tin Princess, Pullman gives up all pretence has only includes her in two chapters: one early in the piece where she explains that she’s going on a business trip, and then in the final chapter/epilogue where she pops up to say “did I miss anything while I was gone?” Finally, Pullman can write a story about Sally’s friend Jim – who was essentially the main character of books one and two anyway – without having to go to the begrudging effort of referring back to whatever pointless and tedious thing Sally is doing.
Maybe I’m being too mean to this series, but I’m really beginning to see Pullman’s work as being like that of Troma films. You’ve seen the trailers for such classics as Surf Nazis Must Die, Sgt Kabukiman NYPD, Chopper Chicks In Zombietown and the rest. Great three-minute trailers that make their respective subjects look like the funniest movies in the world. Then you watch the actual movies, and find that the three minutes of gold from each film were put in the trailers, and ninety minutes of dreck was added around it to make it feature length. An odd comparison, perhaps, but Pullman’s books have all enticed me with their high concepts; but then said high concepts are beaten to the ground by uneven storytelling and characters who are assigned personality traits by Pullman’s narration that they never actually act in accordance with.
But hey, there were a few nice moments in each book, so they weren’t completely without redemption, and copies are still selling, so I’m obviously in the minority here. And it’s not like I didn’t invite this sort of pointless horror into my life: now, due to what essentially boils down to being bullied by some seventeen year old girls, I’m off to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And probably cut myself.