The Secret Commonwealth - Philip Pullman
I met Philip Pullman a few years ago and, truthfully, told him I enjoyed the books. But I can't say I love them. I'm aware of the crushing weight of symbolism, and deliberate references to contemporary theological discussions - but they are so alien to me. I've always found it hard to keep track of a large cast of characters - and half-remembering a cameo from a middle chapter of a decade old novel just frustrates me.
That's my failing, not the author's.
It's a great adventure though. With the help of my wife's perfect memory, I was able to work out who everyone was, and what their relationships meant. It's a tense and exciting novel, suffused with a dream-like quality. I wish that it had dwelt longer on some of the fantastical characters.
I'd advise you to re-read the other books in this series, as it is rather unforgiving to newcomers (and the forgetful!)