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The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Quartet) Paperback – 4 May 2009
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So, my thanks to Philip Pullman for the story, and even more to Anton Lesser for making bedtime for one 68-year-old so special and magical by his outstanding interpretation.
Opium addiction, a crime story, a thriller of sorts - all set in a Victorian period, the author does well setting the scene, dragging us into the Victorian English culture and social etiquette usually associated with the period. It is especially creepy reading such niceties when you know certain characters are evil.
The opium and drug storyline is an original one for YA fiction of the time, and it is an interesting plot - one that does get better the further you read. It is cleverly thought-out, and the inclusion of in book newspaper headlines and letters is again, unusual but not a hindrance.
My only complaint, as such, is Sally, I guess. She just doesn't do it for me a protagonist. I much preferred the other side cast - Jim, the scallywag, ready to stick two fingers up and anybody, and Frederick and Rosa - the entrepreneur siblings who take Sally under their wing.
An enjoyable read as much as it goes, but not a memorable one in comparison to some of the Author's other works.
“The Ruby in the Smoke”, is the first book in a series of “Sally Lockhart Mysteries”, which I figure is a little like a Victorian England version of Nancy Drew (which I still have not read any of). Anyway, Sally Lockhart is a young girl whose father recently passed away, he drowned in suspicious circumstances and left Sally an Orphan, all alone in London. Sally soon comes across something her father left her to protect and suddenly the world and everyone in it is chasing her down for it. I can’t say too much else because of spoilers.
The writing in this book is brilliant, the pacing is intense, the characters have a lovely depth to them and it’s just so well executed. Despite Sally Lockhart basically falling under the “special snowflake” syndrome where she is good at everything for no real reason, she is an enjoyable character. The world building is perfect. I have seen books written by some authors, where their versions of “victorian london” make me cringe (sadly this often is a result of American authors writing scenes or stories set in “victorian england”- which tends to be a weird mixture of too much “Oliver!” and “Jack the Ripper” crap).
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers, mysteries, or even anyone who just wants to see how to correctly write a book set in “Victorian London”. Because this is how it is done.
For more of my reviews, please visit The Book Heap at wordpress, via http://thebookheap.wordpress.com
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