I am fortunate enough to get to read an advanced readers copy of The Silver Compass. First, I should say that I love Holly Kennedy. Her blog is warm and funny and interesting and I highly encourage you to check it out! And her writing lives up to the hype. ;)
She's very skilled at weaving sentences that are at the same time beautiful on their own account, and yet don't slow the book down or get in the way of the plot - which is really fascinating in The Silver Compass.
It opens with a 17 year old Ellis attempting suicide by jumping off a bridge. And you feel all of the agony with her. It's not over wrought, or flip, just moving and convincing. From there, the story launches into a grown up Ellis with her own teenage daughter returning to her small town in Montana. She's just survived the death of her husband, well, barely survived. And she's bringing her daughter home to get start over.
Kennedy weaves lots of questions into the book about Louie, the man who saved her from drowning so long ago, about her father who suddenly reappears, about the silver compass with the engravings on the back... I'll let you read and find the answers!