Barb's Reviews > The Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
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's review
Jul 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: hf-victorian-1837-1901, historical-mystery, read-in-2011, ya, favorites, read-in-2014, re-read-it, read-in-2016

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 frighten some readers. The violence was not particularly graphic, just frightening, which in my opinion only added to the suspense of the story.

I liked the mystery and the protagonist Sally Lockhart, as well as the friends she makes along the way and I thought the solution to the mystery surrounding the ruby was interesting.

Listening to an audio book is a very different thing than reading a book for me. When I'm reading I generally make notes and write down character's names and dates that events happen to help me figure out what's going on and what might be potential motivations and how much time elapsed between certain events. Listening alone without the written word in front of me to help cement in my mind dates and names was a different experience. Listening to this while driving added another challenge, I found that if my mind wandered away from the story the least little bit I would have to go back and replay what I missed incase it was something vital to the story. As it was I didn't figure anything out I just listened and enjoyed the ride.

I loved Anton Lesser's performance, he is a fabulous actor/reader and added a layer of richness that I wouldn't have had if I had read the printed page instead of listening to the audio version. His voices for all of the characters are fabulous. I would recommend this to listeners of many ages not just the Young Adult audience it is intended for. (July 18, 2011)

10/2/2014: I just finished listening to this again and I loved it just as much as I did the first time, maybe more because I could appreciate Pullman's writing in a way I couldn't the first time because I was so engrossed in the action of the story. I highly recommend this series, I just love these characters.

3/24/2016: Listened to this again for the third time and I love it just as much as ever.
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Reading Progress

July 20, 2011 – Shelved
July 20, 2011 – Shelved as: hf-victorian-1837-1901
July 20, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-mystery
July 20, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011
July 20, 2011 – Shelved as: ya
August 4, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites
September 23, 2014 – Shelved as: read-in-2014
September 23, 2014 – Shelved as: re-read-it
Started Reading
March 24, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016
March 24, 2016 – Finished Reading

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