Peter's Reviews > The Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
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Dec 16, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: victorians, london, young-adult, read-2012
Read from August 25 to 26, 2012

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 really good and captures the Victorian turn of phrase very well. I can see some Dickensian influence and I imagine a bit from Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle too. Occasionally there were a few last minute liberties written into the story to make things work - suddenly discovering Frederick is an expert climber is one that springs to mind and there was another one that was to do with the ruby. The villain Mrs Holland is a great character, but unlike Mrs Coulter, I didn't quite buy the web of influence and power she seemed to have accrued. There were also lots of good London locations and secondary characters. I will definitely read the next one in the series.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Noetic_Hatter (new)

Noetic_Hatter "suddenly discovering Frederick is an expert climber is one that springs to mind"

I have not read this book, but your point is well-taken. I hate it when a sudden revelation fixes the hopeless situation. It's one of the things that drove me most mad about READY PLAYER ONE.


message 2: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Pate I am working my way through the "His Dark Materials" trilogy for my second time (the first was when I was younger). I have a new passion for the series, as there is so much more depth to the characters and the story line this time through. I am a huge fan of fantasy books. The look into the imaginations of the authors who write them absolutely astounds me--especially when they are as well written as "The Golden Compass". Do you feel this other trilogy is a let-down in comparison? Your review makes it seem as though the writing itself may not be quite so well formed? If I were to read those books next, is it fair for me I expect the same greatness I find in "His Dark Materials"?


message 3: by Peter (last edited Feb 28, 2013 06:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter Lindsay wrote: "I am working my way through the "His Dark Materials" trilogy for my second time (the first was when I was younger). I have a new passion for the series, as there is so much more depth to the char..."
Maybe my review's a little harsh on the first Sally Lockhart book. The story is a lot smaller in scope than HDM but the actual writing is still v good. Overall I think it is also an excellent series, worth reading, hence the four stars. Also Sally Lockhart's are mystery stories rather than fantasy so little different to HDM.


message 4: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim great review, Peter


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