Monday, May 21, 2012

Review for the Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart #1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: Historical Mystery
Pages: 230
Source: Bought at Library Booksale

Summery from Goodreads…
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 orphan and alone in the smoky fog of Victorian London. Though she doesn't know it, Sally is already in terrible danger. Soon the mystery and the danger will deepen - and at the rotten heart of it all lies the deadly secret of the ruby in the smoke...

Message from the Krazy Elf
I'm BAAACKKK!!!! Summer is here and blogging is back on the menu! My word, school was simply awful and I'm glad to have a break now. Sorry it's been so long between posts but hopefully it will be back to a more regular schedule. I can't promise more then one book review a week (I'm not that fast of a reader and I have other commitments) but I'll try to do my best. Now, on to Ruby in the Smoke...
The Good
            So this is only the 7th book I’ve really reread and like most rereads it was better than I had remembered it. What actually got me to pick this book up again was, in a roundabout way, due to Doctor Who (the 11th doctor was in the Masterpiece Theater version of The Ruby in the Smoke, as was the girl who played Rose). So I watched the movie and really enjoyed it so I decided to give the book a second read, now I’m in love.
            I’ve always loved mysteries but set it in a Victorian setting and I’m sold. Philip Pullman’s ability with this genre had me on the edge of my set for most of the book. I was so anxious to get to the next page to find out what was going to happen next. There is suspense and action mixed with the barest hint of romance.
            Sally Lockhart is another awesome chick-protagonist who is better with a gun then a sewing needle. She has none of the usual accomplishments that a young lady was expected to have at that time but it had never matter before. Until that fateful day her father suddenly dies and she is left with hardly any money and a horrible aunt who is determined she should become a ladies companion as she must now earn her own way through life; that is until Sally runs away. Sally is strong willed character who refuses to let fear get the better of her. She is definitely a character you want to root for.
            There are many great characters in this book, I even laughed at some of the villains, but my favorite is probably the office boy Jim. He’s got street smarts and an imagination fueled by penny dreadful’s. He is fiercely loyal which I love in a character, and doesn’t mind getting in a scrap or two.

The Bad
            As much as I loved this book there were a few things that I just couldn’t breeze over. I love Sally’s love interest in this book, I even love their chemistry, but I don’t think Pullman can really write romance. He tries but it just felt very forced and awkwardly put in there. I think you can feel the attraction better in the regular scenes then when he tries to bring attention to it.
            My other small problem, though not that irritating was kinda noticeable, was that there were two mysteries surrounding Sally that had no connection to each other. It could have almost been split into two different books if he had wanted to.

The Krazyness
(I lent my copy to a friend so this quote is from the movie)

Mrs. Holland: Oooh, Mr Berry. This calls for a celebration. There's gin in the cupboard.
Mr Berry: I signed the Pledge in Dartmoor, Mrs Holland. Alcohol is the cause of madness, hallucinations, softness of the brain and moral decay.
Mrs. Holland: I think the damage is already done in your case.
Mr Berry: Yeah, I was *formerly* very wicked - but I intend to lead a good life from now on.
Mrs. Holland: Always excepting the odd murder or two.

 4 Elf Cookies


  1. Love this book. Now I want to do a reread of the series...Lol.

    1. Haha, yeah. I just finished the whole series now I want to buy them all!