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The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,259 Ratings  ·  991 Reviews
Sally is sixteen and uncommonly pretty. Her knowledge of English literature, French, history, art and music is non-existent, but she has a thorough grounding in military tactics, can run a business, ride like a Cossack and shoot straight with a pistol.

When her dear father is drowned in suspicious circumstances in the South China Sea, Sally is left to fend for herself, an o
...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published November 12th 1988 by Laurel Leaf Library (first published January 1st 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
Jul 26, 2013 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know this smart and swiftly paced Victorian mystery is written for young adults, right? You know that doesn't mean dumbed down or raw, but rather that it should not be cluttered up with obtrusive literariness or head-scratching ephemera. You say that Pullman struggles with figurative language and that he doesn't find his own voice and I have to say... what exactly do you mean by 'figurative language' and how is he struggling with it? I saw no such struggle and I read a very specific voice. P ...more
Larissa
Dec 09, 2008 Larissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
Recommended to Larissa by: Jenna
With a subtitle of "A Sally Lockhart Mystery," one might expect the first installment of said series to be about a girl who restores pinched puppies to their rightful dowdy owners. And you wouldn't be more wrong! The Ruby in the Smoke introduces Sally, a self-made woman already at 16 years old, with an accidental death and a call to action. Her father has died under mysterious circumstances, and it's up to her (and eventually a merry, ragtag band of comrades including an equally quickwitted youn ...more
LorCon
Dec 18, 2008 LorCon rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I'm a big fan of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, so I thought I would give this a try. Heck, I even liked the Golden Compass movie (two words--Daniel Craig). This is what librarians call "young adult" literature i.e. "for teenagers." As such, I find it a bit disturbing. I'm a far cry from a book-burning censor but this heroine is not my idea of a role model. Set in Victorian London, Sally Lockhart is an orphan (of course)who falls in with a Dickensian cast of characters to solve her father ...more
Chrissie
Dec 17, 2007 Chrissie rated it it was amazing
i read this trilogy approximately 7.5 million times when i was younger. so good. and it taught me all i know about opium use. no kidding.
Fiona
Hold your horses, everyone, the twenty-something nostalgia has set in. I’m noticing a couple of good, classic books for youngsters working their way back under my fictional radar in the last few months. I read Ruby in the Smoke when I was about twelve or thirteen, probably lured by the promise of Victorians, intrigue and lady-heroes who are good at accountancy. (I was that kind of child. My private games tended to involve a pencil and paper and the question “How would I run this as a self-suppo ...more
Sherwood Smith
Sally Lockhart is an orphan during the 1879s in London. She begins to discover the truth about her father, while being menaced by some very creepy characters.

I enjoyed this far more than the Golden Compass books, as the narrative wasn't marred by the high whine of Pullman's anti-Narnia axe being ground. The narrative voice dips into condescension here and there, but that actually fits period literature for younger readers, and the atmosphere of London's darker reaches was vivid and evocative.

It
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Peter
Dec 16, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of 'His Dark Materials' and 'Ruby in the Smoke' is set in a similar Victorian world, but without the steampunk or magical elements. It's a murder mystery where teenage orphan Sally Lockhart searches for her father's killer and tries to discover his connection to the Ruby of the title and the significance of his last warning to her - 'Beware the seven blessings.'

At around 200 pages it was a quick read. The writing is not quite as sophisticated as 'His Dark Materials', but is still
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J.G. Keely
Aug 09, 2011 J.G. Keely rated it it was ok
I always find myself frustrated when authors can't seem to think of anything bad for their characters to overcome, and so they have to create some unbelievably vindictive and amoral villain just so there is some central conflict. The main character gets along with everyone and always finds satisfying solutions to any momentary setback.

The only problems such super-protagonists can't solve are those which they don't yet know the details of, so Pullman gives us a faux-mystery to keep the character
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Ana T.
Mar 05, 2008 Ana T. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
I started this book with great expectation having heard so much about Pullman and his His Dark Materials books. Besides it is set in Victorian London and I love those stories.

Have you ever heard the phrase The Seven Blessings?
That question causes a man to die of shock, and propels Sally Lockhart into a desperate adventure that will expose the deepest secrets of the corrupt and murderous opium trade.
Sally is sixteen when the story begins, orphaned and alone. She's had an unconventional educatio
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Angie
Jan 26, 2015 Angie rated it really liked it
I remember buying my copy of THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE at a B. Dalton bookstore in San Antonio, Texas. I liked the cover with the young girl in the cape holding something mysterious in a white handkerchief for a slightly creepy old woman to inspect. But, in the end, this was yet another example of a book I bought for the opening lines alone.
On a cold, fretful afternoon in early October, 1872, a hansom cab drew up outside the offices of Lockhart and Selby, Shipping Agents, in the financial heart of L
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Rhiannon
Philip Pullman might have the biggest pair of balls in YA Lit. In my first foray into Pullman's work, he killed God and encouraged teen sex to heal the world. In The Ruby In The Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery, his teenage heroine is encouraged to use drugs to fill in the plot-holes of her life, and she shoots and kills an evil pirate, with a gun she had locked and loaded in her handbag. Lolz - love it!

The setting of The Ruby... is perhaps my favorite setting ever: Victorian London. The East End
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Michael Ames
Dec 01, 2008 Michael Ames rated it liked it
This book is a refreshing departure for Philip Pullman, for those of us who are only acquainted with His Dark Materials. It's a great mystery, immediately engaging with authentic, realistic characters and settings. I'd recommend it for adults and mature teenagers with a taste for dark mystery. I'll read the next one.

In fact, the only reason I can't give this book four stars is that parents need to be very cautious about the age and emotional maturity of children who read it. The Ruby in the Sm
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Roberta
Nov 16, 2014 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2014
Questo è il primo volume della serie dedicata a Sally Lockhart, composta da quattro romanzi. Avevo già letto molti anni fa il secondo e il terzo volume, e mi erano piaciuti molto. Il fascino di Pullman resiste, anche se non me la sentirei mai ora di assegnare cinque stelline a questo libro. Si tratta di un giallo ambientato nell'Inghilterra vittoriana. La protagonista, Sally Lockhart appunto, è rimasta recentemente orfana di padre ed è decisa a scoprire la verità sulla sua morte, nonché a sfuggi ...more
First Second Books
When I read these books when I was a teenager, I don’t think I realized quite how crazy it was that Sally went off and became a financial advisor instead of staying and managing the photographic studio. My general reaction to her (I thought) misguided decision to pursue the life of finance was, ‘well, that’s stupid and boring.’ (It’s possible that I was a very young teenager at the time.) Re-reading these, it’s fascinating to see how Pullman presents Sally’s life in a very male-dominated world, ...more
Kerry Hunter
Apr 04, 2014 Kerry Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, reviewed
Throughout the year of 2014, I told myself I'd re-read some of my favourite books from my childhood. This was the first one I picked up as I remember being absolutely addicted to the series way back when. It was just as incredible as I remembered, maybe even more so thanks to finally catching the adult themes and jokes within the book within my adult eyes.

What do a man drowning at sea, a heart attack victim and a mysterious message all have in common? Little Sally Lockheart. That's all I'm going
...more
Lance Greenfield
May 29, 2012 Lance Greenfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Sally Lockhart story that I have read, and it probably won't be the last.

In the beginning, it was difficult for me to believe in the strength and forthrightness of this sixteen year old. She shows maturity well beyond her years. However, the more that I followed Sally around the streets of London, the more convincing she was, and the more that I lived her dangerous adventures alongside her.

There are some very kind and generous characters in this book, and they form strong allia
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TheBookSmugglers
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Sally Lockhart is sixteen years old when she loses her father. The only child of a successful merchant with a business of importing goods from far-off destinations, Sally is devastated when she learns that her father's boat has capsized somewhere off the coast of Singapore, killing him and every other soul onboard. To make matters worse, her only living relation is a distant, scornful Aunt, and her inheritance is far less than what it should be, thanks to
...more
Karla
Aug 13, 2012 Karla rated it really liked it
Read this quite a few years ago. I liked it, but the ending let me down a bit. The fact that the heroine huffs opium seemed edgy at the time. It was a cool adventure tale and I enjoyed it. After attempting and DNFing His Dark Materials, I think of Pullman as a pretty overrated author. But this one was enjoyable enough.
Nikki
This was the first Pullman book I read, and I loved it. I'm not sure how realistic a woman like Sally is in Victorian times, but I thought she was awesome anyway. And I had such a crush on Fred.
Sonja
Jan 14, 2015 Sonja rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who wish for their braincells to commit suicide
The Ruby In The Smoke's central mystery is established at a breakneck speed in the first 30 pages or so, and this I do not mean in a positive sense. The plot, both poorly set up and rife with unbelievable coincidences, centres around a group of flat characters, introducing them too quickly and too superficially to become attached to them in any way.

It is also full of holes. Plenty of the protagonists are made out to be keen of wit, yet, even with a plethora of bad guys on their heels, just wait
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Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
Feb 19, 2012 Maggie Desmond-O'Brien rated it it was amazing
If I had to name a children's/teen's author of the past twenty years most likely to be remembered over the next few centuries, it would have to be J.K. Rowling - it's hard to ignore an author that rewrites an entire culture. If we're talking runners-up, though, it's Philip Pullman hands down. Not only did he write one of the most exquisitely crafted and original fantasy trilogies ever in Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, he also has written exquisitely ...more
Barb
I listened to my first audio book recently 'The Agency: A Spy in the House' by Y.S. Lee, which I enjoyed. A friend recommended 'The Ruby in the Smoke' by Philip Pullman, she said there were some similarities between the two stories and she thought I would enjoy Pullman's book as well.

'The Ruby in the Smoke' was more a more sophisticated story with better developed characters. Opium use and addiction factor into the story and there are several murders and scenes with violence which might frighte
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Lucinda
Mar 15, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Philip Pullman's 'Ruby in the Smoke' is an exciting tale of drama and mystery that will leave you in complete suspense and sitting on the edge of your seat with tense aprehension. I thoroughly enjoyed Philip Pulman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy but was disapointed to thus find that the rest of his works were less adviertised or publisised, as they in my mind are just as great too. This particular novel i took much pleasure and enjoyment from reading hence i was unable to put it down, as i was l ...more
D.L. Morrese
Sep 12, 2012 D.L. Morrese rated it it was amazing
This is the first of Philip Pullman’s Victorian mystery novels featuring Sally Lockhart. She is 16-years-old in this story, her father has just died in a shipwreck, and she finds herself in the middle of nefarious dealings involving a missing ruby, criminal gangs, fraud, piracy, and the opium trade.
Because the protagonist is young, this is often considered a Young Adult novel. Don’t let this mislead you. This is a well-crafted tale of mystery, murder, and intrigue. The characters are engaging. T
...more
Simon Aldous
Nov 07, 2012 Simon Aldous rated it really liked it
Philip Pullman is best known for the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, but before he wrote those three books, which deal with parallel universes, fantasy creatures and theological issues, he produced the four Sally Lockhart books, gripping Victorian melodramas of which this is the first.

Sally is a self-possessed 16-year old, whose father has recently died in mysterious circumstances. Her efforts to find out what happened to him lead her into a murky underworld, much of it set in east London's dockla
...more
Margaret
I liked these more the first time I read them, but they stood up fairly well to rereading. As The Ruby in the Smoke starts, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart has just lost her father, a businessman who drowned when his ship went down, and is trying to figure out the meaning of his last message to her; the second and third books follow her further suspenseful adventures.

The setting is well-done, and the characters, especially practical, brave Sally, are memorable. The one thing I didn't like was Pullma
...more
Tish
Jun 12, 2012 Tish rated it really liked it
Oh, I wish we could do half stars here because this is exactly a 3 and a half star book. It was an enjoyable read set in Victorian England. It features a diverse and likeable set of characters except, of course, for the evil and appropriately despicable villains. It was interesting, full of action and drama and I loved the setting. It even brought a tear to my eye at the end. Probably the only reason I didn't rate it higher (well, actually, I did go ahead and give it four stars since 3.5 wasn't ...more
Coralie
Dec 04, 2014 Coralie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I can now say that Pullman's female characters are among my favourites ever.
The Ruby in the Smoke is a nice story, an interesting mystery, slightly all over the place, but that's a thing I quite like about Pullman's novels. I'll definitely read the three other books in the series at some point, and I will be glad to come back to the gothic atmosphere of Sally's Victorian London.
RachelAnne
Jun 17, 2007 RachelAnne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school girls with a penchant for old-school adventure
Really fun adventure from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, when sailors' lives disappeared in a puff of opium smoke and rajahs' jewels haunted the dreams of soldiers. Sally's a fun, not overly-implausible strong heroine who grows more sure of herself during the course of this and other books in the series. Not great literature, perhaps, but rollicking good fun.
Jenna
Mar 04, 2016 Jenna rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! I picked it up from Goodwill a bit ago on the promise of my love of Philip Pullman's writing and I was not disappointed. Here we find a self-actualized adult of a 16 year old girl in Victorian London. The story was a little more intense than I was anticipating, though I knew it to be a mystery dealing with the suspicious death of her father, but that was me judging a book by it's cover (or, in this case, it's size and target audience). The action was never waylaid by ...more
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more
More about Philip Pullman...

Other Books in the Series

Sally Lockhart (4 books)
  • The Shadow in the North (Sally Lockhart, #2)
  • The Tiger in the Well (Sally Lockhart, #3)
  • The Tin Princess (Sally Lockhart, #4)

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“On a cold, fretful afternoon in early October, 1872, a hansom cab drew up outside the offices of Lockhart and Selby, Shipping Agents, in the financial heart of London, and a young girl got out and paid the driver.

She was a person of sixteen or so--alone, and uncommonly pretty. She was slender and pale, and dressed in mourning, with a black bonnet under which she tucked back a straying twist of blond hair that the wind had teased loose. She had unusually dark brown eyes for one so fair. Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man.”
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“Her upbringing had given her an independence of mind that made her more like a girl of today than one of her own time - which was why she had walked out, and why she was not daunted by the prospect of being alone.” 6 likes
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