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on 4 March 2018
I read this in paperback form some years ago and enjoyed it, and later titles in the series, as an entertaining adventure with an authentic period feel. Having recently downloaded it onto Kindle, I treated myself to the audio narration, by Anton Lesser, and this has turned a good story into a first-class, personal 'book at bedtime'. Mr Lesser's wonderful range of voices comes as no real surprise for such a versatile actor, at present in roles as wide apart on the dramatic spectrum as Qyburn (Game of Thrones) and Reginald Bright (Endeavour). In this first of the Sally Lockhart series, he is equally good at male and female voices - something quite rare among narrators, I find, and therefore to be treasured - and slips readily and easily from character to character, bringing them all into vibrant life. My particular favourites were timid, whispering little Adelaide and the bovine, bestial Mr Berry... oh, and the sibilantly evil Mrs Holland ought to have a mention, too.
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.
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on 9 August 2015
The Ruby in the Smoke is one of those books I've been meaning to read, but somehow, always missed. Philip Pullman, one of all time favourite authors, clearly has a huge following for his Sally Lockhart novels, but there always seemed something a little off while I was reading this.

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.
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on 23 April 2018
This series was recommended to me by another parent as a suggestion for my nine year old son, an avid reader. I've enjoyed reading the first couple of books, but I'm frustrated by the sudden little pockets of bad language - to me, they really jar with the rest of the text, and I think most children under 12 or so would feel a little uncomfortable reading them. Certainly my 9 y-o would, so I won't be buying any more. I noticed that the same thing happens in Pullman's New Cut Gang series; a really fun book for children of, say 7-8 upwards but which then has completely unnecessary (albeit fairly mild) swearing in it. Just one to be aware of if you're buying for younger children.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2014
This is the final novel in the Sally Lockhart quartet, but for me the most disappointing as Sally was hardly in it. It concerns instead the doings of the orphan girl Adelaide from The Ruby in the Smoke, who has managed to get herself married to the heir apparent to the throne of the (fictional) Ruritania-like kingdom of Razkavia, a tiny state between the German and Austro-Hungarian empires, and which is desperately trying to avoid being swallowed by either one. As a swashbuckler with murders, betrayals, lost princes and battles, this was decent, though it never felt as realistic as the previous novels and I found it difficult to take the plot seriously, because of that contrast. The country falls apart when the German army invades and Adelaide and her friends are forced to flee. The fates of several of the minor characters were unclear at the end of the novel. A disappointing end to the series.
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on 19 May 2014
I read this book about a year after reading Pullman’s most popular works His Dark Materials, and I’m sorry to say that I enjoyed this so much more than HDM! I really need to crack on with the other three books in this series because I was gripped. The books are only short but Pullman’s writing sucks you in.

“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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on 13 November 2017
I don't know why Pull man is catalogued as a children's author. Yes some of the characters are children but the story is proper adventure. It deals with very adult themes and has brilliant discripshions.
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on 29 July 2012
I chose to read this series by the great writer Philip Pullman after reading the brilliant 'dark chronicles', I found him to be such a good story teller that I wanted to read more from him. After starting this book I was a little worried that it was not as exciting as his 'dark chronicles' triology, however i have found it to be a very interesting and gripping read, the excitement more subtle to suit the story, of the life of Sally Lockhart. The stories give you a good descriptive insight into life in London many years ago, and sally's struggle to find her own way in the world, and the twists and turns and dangers that she must face make this book and the others in the series, real page turners.
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on 14 December 2015
This book is perfect for early secondary age pupils. Though it was written recently, it is set in the Victorian era. I really recommend you to buy this book. It arrived pretty quickly even though I didn't order it on Amazon prime. I have also seen the film (but the book is better!) A very good read.
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on 27 March 2018
Starts slowly, building tension all the while. You are never sure what is coming next. A great climax. Masterful story telling.
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on 21 November 2017
great series by great writer
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