by Philip Pullman
The first in a trilogy, The Golden Compass is ostensibly Young Adult Fiction, but gets into increasingly deep and dark areas. Amazing stuff. It all starts with a girl named Lyra, who lives in Oxford, England, but not the one we know. In her world, each person has a "daemon," or spirit-animal, who is always with him or her. This daemon can change into any animal at any time, and can talk with you the way you might talk to your conscience. When you reach puberty, your daemon chooses a permanent form. Rumors are circulating about a group of kidnappers separating children from their daemons. Could this have anything to do with the mysterious city visible in the Aurora Borealis?