Sir Philip Pullman has announced the new instalment in his Book Of Dust series – featuring heroine Lyra as an adult for the first time.
The novel will hit shelves in October, before His Dark Materials – the TV adaptation of his trilogy – airs on BBC One.
His Dark Materials was published between 1995 and 2000 and introduced Lyra Silvertongue as a spirited 12-year-old.
Fans waited 17 years for her return in La Belle Sauvage, the first in The Book Of Dust series, depicting Lyra as a baby as well as 11-year-old Malcolm.
Lyra has now grown up, like the trilogy’s original readers, and “life is not easy” for the protagonist, now an “independent young woman” and student.
The Secret Commonwealth is set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage and describes the search for the secret of Dust and an elusive town said to be haunted by daemons, the fictional beings in Sir Philip’s fantasy series.
“Things have been biding their time, waiting for the right moment to reveal their consequences for Lyra Silvertongue,” the author said in a statement.
“The Secret Commonwealth tells the continuing story of the impact on Lyra’s life of the search for, and the fear of, Dust.”
Lyra is “discovering a new and difficult aspect to her relationship” with her daemon.
But “at the heart of the book are Lyra…. and Malcolm… who now find their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition.”
Francesca Dow, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK) managing director, said the book “shows us a darker parallel world whose troubles echo our own”.
“Like the original readers of His Dark Materials, Lyra has grown up.
“Her concerns are adult ones, and this new perspective – coupled with Philip’s unflinching look at the human condition and his extraordinary storytelling – makes for a breathtaking read….
“The relationship between daemon and human embodies the very human identity struggle between childhood to adulthood,” she said.
The book can be read as a standalone or set alongside Lyra’s other adventures.
The British author’s best-selling His Dark Materials series was comprised of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
The TV adaptation will star Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It was previously adapted into a film, The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman, which received mixed reviews.
The Secret Commonwealth: The Book Of Dust Volume Two, by David Fickling Books in association with Penguin Random House in the UK, will be published on October 3.