Sometimes, one isn't at the right age when one reads a book; I wasn't at the right age when I first read Animal Farm at around ten or eleven, but then, reading it again a few years later, in my teens, I thought it brilliant.My recollection would probably be bleak more than dark as such. I just seem to remember it felt like a world of precious little comfort, both in an environmental and interpersonal respect. Perhaps one day I will have to try and give it another try with an open mind if I can shake the colour of my first read-through. I believe it's being made into a Netflix series so I might try that first.
Likewise, I read The Catcher In The Rye too late.
I would argue that His Dark Materials is YA material, rather than for children, even though Lyra and Will are children when the books start.