On a cold and dark night in an Oxford common room, two strangers, Horley and Grinstead, quietly discuss two recently acquired works of art, and the rumors surrounding them. Apparently whenever a painting of a light-haired woman with an expression of both sexy passion and cold strength is sold to a new owner, a small, and seemingly unrelated bronze sculpture of a savage monkey with an outstretched hand falls into the hands of the new owner.

“But the thing is,” said Horley, “they didn’t know each other at all. Never heard of each other. It wasn’t about the makers. Only about the works.”

Pullman provides His Dark Materials fans with a little more detail about Lyra’s world in the form of a classic horror story. With his exceptional ability to create setting with rich and visceral details in combination with his lack of outright plot explanations, Pullman displays yet again his mastery of showing (not telling) you the story he wants to tell. Although you might be tempted to think Pullman is tacking onto his successful franchise, the quality storytelling and resulting mystery will remind you of all the stories Pullman has yet to bring forth from these wondrous worlds.

This short story is only available on audio, and with the exceptional reading by Bill Nighy and a short length of only thirty minutes, this one is a must read for everyone who enjoyed His Dark Materials.

“The small fire in the room had just enough energy to to warm the rug directly in front it, but the left the corners of the room to fend for themselves.”