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Count Karlstein Paperback – February 22, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (February 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375803483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375803482
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I might have occupied my mind usefully with Improving Thoughts, but the only improvement I could imagine then was a pair of wings, to enable me to fly to freedom. And, of course, a Head for Heights. I cleaned the dust from the window and peered out hopefully, but there was nothing but a Horrid Precipice, with jagged crags several thousands of feet below." Such are the woes of young Charlotte, locked in a tower room of her uncle's gloomy Castle Karlstein in 19th-century Switzerland. Escaping this predicament seems the least of her worries: in a solemn blood pact, her evil uncle, Count Karlstein, has promised to sacrifice his two orphaned nieces, Lucy and Charlotte, to Zamiel the Demon Huntsman--on midnight of All Souls' Eve--in return for his current riches.

First, however, the heartless Count and his "lip-licking, moist-handed, creeping, smarming" secretary, Herr Arturo Snivelwurst, will have to catch Lucy, too--and it is no small task with the headstrong, 14-year-old Hildi Kelmar; her 18-year-old, handsome-in-a-scowling-sort-of-way brother, Peter; and the intrepid English teacher Miss Augusta Davenport on the girls' side. As Miss Davenport herself points out, "an English gentlewoman can rise above any circumstances, given intelligence and a loaded pistol." The events in this delightful gothic farce unfold quickly in a variety of narrative voices, artfully building in suspense to a powerful, terrifying, deeply satisfying stand-off between the Count and the Demon Huntsman of Impenetrable Darkness himself. Subplots and loose ends are gracefully, happily, justly tied up in the light of day, finally allowing readers to exhale.

British novelist Philip Pullman, masterful storyteller and creator of the bestselling adventures The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, mesmerizes us again with his playful, suspenseful thriller Count Karlstein, released in the United States 16 years after its appearance in the United Kingdom. Readers young and old will revel in every angle, twist, and turn of this breathlessly paced, very funny page-turner. (Ages 11 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in Britain in 1982, Pullman's light-hearted debut effort appears in the U.S. for the first time. A welcome diversion for fans impatiently awaiting the final installation of the trilogy begun with The Golden Compass, this novel?though lacking the more serious underpinnings of the author's later books?showcases the boisterous narrative style that fans will recognize as an established element of Pullman's repertoire. Set in a Swiss village in 1816, the story revolves around wicked Count Karlstein, his two wards?the English orphans Lucy and Charlotte?and the nasty bargain Karlstein has struck with Zamiel, the Demon Huntsman, a supernatural being who annually haunts the local woods on All Souls' Eve. Pullman adds further zest to the mix with the appearance of characters like the orphans' former schoolteacher, the indomitable Augusta Davenport ("I was able to console myself with the reflection that an English gentlewoman can rise above any circumstances, given intelligence and a loaded pistol"), and the actor and sometime swindler known as Doctor Cadavarezzi (aka Signor Brilliantini), a mountebank as charming as he is sly. Briskly narrated in a variety of voices, including those of Lucy (influenced by such contemporary gothic novels as The Mysteries of Udolpho) and the bumbling, hilariously self-important police sergeant Snitsch, the plot undergoes a series of twists and turns too complicated?not to mention delightfully improbable?to delineate here. In an exuberant conclusion worthy of the best of comic operas, the orphans find a true protector, the evil Count is served his just deserts and the formidable Miss Davenport is reunited with her long-lost love. Dashing, sparkling and wildly over-the-top fun. Ages 8-13.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is a hilarious book you are sure to enjoy.
Amazon Customer
Philip Pullman has a string of popular stories to his credit and well knows of what he writes.
Gail Cooke
The story involves plenty of outlandish characters and hilarious incidents.
Sheila L. Beaumont

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Backlash on November 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pullman knows that every book can't be a masterpiece, or hugely ambitious and complex, like His Dark Materials. As a result he gives us plenty of these shorter, less deep and lighter books that are great for a light-hearted read. This book in particular is really funny, and a little spooky at times. Another little gem from a brilliant author.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on April 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the funniest books I've read in ages. It's based on the legend of the Wild Hunt and the Demon Huntsman. The story involves plenty of outlandish characters and hilarious incidents. The high point is the shooting match near the end where one very improbable coincidence after another is revealed. Grown-ups, don't miss out on this one. It's not just for children.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rebecka S on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Excellent book for young adults and adults alike, Count Karlstien is a mixture of Roald Dahl and Edward Gorey. After finishing the His Dark Materials Trilogy, I ran to the nearest bookstore to find more books by Phillip Pullman - and this did not disappoint. I would warn, however, that Count Karlstein is meant for a younger audience than the Golden Compass, and therefore, is a bit more of a children's book. Still fun nonetheless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "shayamorph" on March 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although not one of Pullman's best novels for children, Count Karlstein is a very well written, suspenseful tale that has both horror and fantasy in it. When the evil Cout Karlstein of Castle Karlstein plots to let his two nieces be killed by the legendary, frightful Zamiel the Demon Huntsman, in order to save his own soul, the two nieces find out from a caring nanny in the Castle, who will do anything to save the children. They become frightened at once. Hildi, the nanny, takes them into hiding, and leaving the children up to themselves, she hopes that they will survive the terrible night in which the Demon Huntsman will arrive. This was a funny and scary book in one, with many page turning events, a frightening climax, and characters that are brave, good, and true. Horror blends into this book perfectly, with a twist of a very good tale told with Phiip Pullman's wonderful mind.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Count Carlstein is a very funny book and it will make you laugh at every bizzare turn. The story is about the demon huntsmen Zamiel and Count Carlstein. Count Carlstein has an evil plan to put up both his neices, Lucy and Charlotte, to Zamiel for eating on All Soul's Eve, when the forest is free to Zamiel. Will Charlotte and Lucy escape the count's evil plan with the help of Hildi, the kitchen maid, their old teacher, Max, a new freind, and a crazy doctor? Or will the Count and his sidekick Snivelwurst get the better of them? This is a truly bizarre and funny story you are sure to enjoy. The reason I gave it only four stars was because I have read the Golden Compass and Subtle Knife before I read Count Carlstein. They are the most amazing books I have ever read, though. This is a hilarious book you are sure to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Count Karlstein-
Dark, fantasy novels have always been a favorite of mine. That's why I fell in love with Count Karlstein. Count Karlstein, by Phillip Pullman, was an ironic twist of inhumane seriousness and discreet humor. It was very well written and never once was I bored with it. I really enjoyed the writing style, characterization, and plot of Count Karlstein.
Phillip Pullman's use of colorful, vivid words, really brought flair to this story. I loved how he went from total seriousness to laugh out loud funniness. One example of his unique humor, was when Sergeant Snitsch was trying to write a police report on the arrest of Doctor Cadavarezzi. The Sergeant could never seem to get the Doctor's name right, and therefore, he was never arrested. Another situation was when Max tried to enter a competition with the prize of money and the title of being named forest ranger. Max didn't have a musket, so he used his coach horn and a frozen pea for his ammunition. Oddly enough, Max trips while firing his coach horn and the pea collides off the pillars, into the audience and ends up strangling the unsuspecting mayor's wife. Some of the situations in this story were so bizarre I couldn't help but laugh. This and other funny situations led to my great enjoyment in this book.
The characters in this story were so unique, I was amazed. When each new character was introduced, I fell in love with them instantly. Not only were they funny and interesting, they all had a mind of their own. First there was Hildi, the ever so kind, handmaiden who was always there when you needed her. Then there was Count Karlstein, the villain of the story, who always had an evil plan up his sleeve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
A parody of gothic melodramas,COUNT KARLSTEIN, could be confusing to the presumed target audience of upper elementary and middle schoolers. The book is told from the viewpoint of several different people and Pullman's writing here is not as well delineated as in his later books. Lots of characters are quickly introduced and I found myself thumbing back to remind myself exactly who was who, especially in the beginning chapters. The plot is over the top and exciting with lots of fun surprises revealed in the closing chapters if the reader is patient enough to wade through the rather cumbersome beginning.
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