The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart, #1)
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The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  13,942 ratings  ·  841 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, 240 pages
Published November 12th 1988 by Laurel Leaf Library (first published January 1st 1985)
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mark monday
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
Peter
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...more
Keely
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...more
Ana T.
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...more
Angie
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
...more
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...more
Michael Ames
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...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
Lance Greenfield
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...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...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
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.
Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
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
S.
I love the first three or so Sally Lockhart books, it's hard not to: Spiffing victorian heroine, strange machinations of greedy and sinister villains that are to be stopped, bit of romance but never soppy, bit of things going boom, dashing young cockney called Jim, good pacing.

But they lack richness of detail somehow, everything is just that tiny bit two-dimensional.
Or maybe it's just the transition to a bleak Victorian setting if you are used to the many layered wonders of His Dark Materials

Thi...more
D.L. Morrese
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
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
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
RachelAnne
Jun 17, 2007 RachelAnne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
Chris
Philip Pullman does the world a service with his Sally Lockhart books, giving a slight counterweight to the legions of boy heroes in YA adventures.

His only misstep, in my opinion, is in describing her as "uncommonly pretty", which is unnecessary to the story and in fact reinforces the kinds of societal preconceptions of girlhood that Sally continually struggles against.

This was my 2nd time to read "The Ruby in the Smoke", and once again I found the characters exceedingly likable, the plot gripp...more
Steph Su
Well. Erm. Humm.

After meaning to read this book for years, I wanted to like this so much more than I did!!!!! Yes, I am using an excess of punctuation here because I feel like my disappointment is justified. So many readers I know say that this book was one of their favorites; that they wanted to be, or be friends with, Sally Lockhart; that rereading this beloved gem never failed them.

My biggest qualm with THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE is that Sally Lockhart feels like the quintessential "un-protagonist...more
Arati
The first in the Sally Lockhart series, this events of this book begin in 1872. Pullman begins with "Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man."

Sixteen-year-old Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart receives a note in the mail and visits her father’s partner, Samuel Selby, to ask what it note means. Instead she meets Mr. Higgs, Mr. Selby’s secretary, and asks him two things: did he know of a man named Marchbanks, and has he ever had heard of something call...more
Leone
I really liked this book. As usual Pullman has authentic characters, female and male, and builds a unique and interesting story. This is a book I would give to a boy or girl starting in grade five and up. While the story and the premise is quite dark, filled with murder, deceit, and drugs, it's kept very light because it doesn't dwell in these places. The main character, Sally Lockheart, is very straightforward and headstrong and moping isn't like her. The story, while complicated in sections, m...more
Alexis Neal
Very Holmesian--Sherlock, not Oliver Wendell. The setting, the unknown numbered things that cause death to the hearers (in Holmes it was five orange pips; here's it's seven blessings), the time period, the Indian connections, the opium dens, the sailors, the confusion of identity . . . all very reminiscent of Holmes. Which is by no means a bad thing. I love reading Sherlock Holmes.

I think I was expecting more of a fantasy novel (based on Pullman's other writings, specifically His Dark Materials...more
Maninee
Sep 10, 2010 Maninee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all adventure lovers,
Recommended to Maninee by: avishikta
Shelves: adventure
this book is really wonderful and amazing! i couldn't put it down till the last page, it really had me hooked! it amazes me how philip pullman spins a web around you till you can't take your eyes of the book. i thoroughly enjoyed and simply loved this book! let me me tell you why:

first of all, i loved the way it was written. very dscriptive, and yet no unnessecary descriptions. the streets of 19th century london, the opium dens, the people, the atmosphere, i could see what the characters could s...more
Wendolinne
I just finished reading the book The Ruby in the Smoke, by Philip Pullman. This book is about a young girl named Sally, whose father just died. He died on ship, well, that's what everybody thought. The truth is, he was murdered, then the ship was sunken. Sally received a mysterious letter, and that made her want to find out how her father died, and why. Throughout the book, she finds clues, and ends up trying to find out what the seven blessings means and what is this woman looking for and how...more
Cindy Hudson
Fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series will find Ruby in the Smoke very different, but in many ways just as pleasurable to read. It opens with sixteen-year-old Sally Lockhart visiting her deceased father's shipping firm and accidentally causing one of his associates to die of a heart-attack when she ask him if he knows of the Seven Blessings. The phrase was on a piece of paper dictated by her father before his death and sent to her in secret.

Fearing that her life is in danger, Sally...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...
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2) The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3) Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

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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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“She was learning that if she pretended to be weak and frightened, and dabbed at her eyes with a lacy handkerchief, she could turn aside all manner of pressing questions.” 0 likes
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