When 16-year old Sally's father drowns in suspicious circumstances, she is left to fend for herself in Victorian London. Although she doesn't know it, she is already in terrible danger.
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Although historical novels are not usually my forte, this series is lively, interesting, full of well-developed and likable characters and, of course, well written. It's promoted as a "young adults" series but it really isn't. Not for the younger kids for sure as the stories are quite gritty and do not always end well. Philip Pullman has a knack for original writing. Love him!
There are several reasons why I liked this book. At less than 7 hours in length, it left me wanting just that little bit more. My reading time and effort weren't wasted ploughing through extraneous material. And yet for such a short book, the characters were drawn well. There is certainly good and evil, but the characters are more than just goodies and baddies. And the mystery isn't just about who murdered Jo Bloggs. There's the heroine's own history, a missing fortune, a lost ship, and a few other mysteries besides. And because the heroine and her friends do the job themselves, we don't have to yawn our way along as police check out alibis etc. On top of this, we learn a bit about mid-Victorian photography as well. A truly jam packed novel that other crime and mystery writers should read.
As an adult I approached this novel with some reservations. Anton Lesser's rendition (as always)was brilliant so I needn't have worried. I can recommend this audio book without reservation for both adults and older children alike.
"Fantastic, could listen to again and again"
Brilliant Audiobook, fantastic narator and a really enjoyable listen. Both myself and my husband loved this audiobook and have already listened to it many times since we purchased our copy.
A fantastic story written by Philip Pullman, his stories will never let you down and if you like one your bound to love his others.
Highly recommended, you couldn't ask for more!
"Anton Lesser brings the book to life superbly"
Pullman writes well and this is a fast-paced absorbing book. However, it is really brought to life by Anton Lesser, who reads it superbly well. Lesser is so good that, increasingly, unabridged books read by him are my first port of call when downloading from Audible.
Thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, great narration looking for more by Anton Lesser. Kept you enthralled with his array of brilliant voices.
"Wished for a different narrator"
I enjoyed this trilogy immensely as a teenager and I thought I would find out how good they are as an adult. I still enjoyed the story and the writing very much but I was disappointed in the choice of narrator. Anton Lesser reads very narrative very well but the dialogue was missing something, perhaps because his voice doesn't have much range and he was speaking for several female characters as well as male.
This would have been perfect with a full cast, as His Dark Materials had.
"An excellent mystery thriller"
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The evocation of a dark and atmospheric Victorian London with very believable characters was excellent. I was drawn into the story right from the start and got through the whole of it in less than a week. I could hardly wait to find out what would happen next! I especially liked the unexpected twist towards the end and the reading by Anton Lesser is excellent.
Philip Pullman's novels are very well written. I've read his Northern Lights trilogy quite a few times now and still discover something new. Highly recommended.
"Good first book of a great series."
I first saw the BBC film adaptation of The Ruby in the Smoke, and disliked it. But I had already bought the second book in this series, and that book I ADORED! I quickly gobbled up the third book to, and loved it as much as the second! So I got the first book in audioboook format.
The first book isn't as good as the second and third, but it is still a great book. The story feels a bit contrived at places and the characters a bit unbelievable, but not to a degree that it becomes annoying. Overall, this is a great book, and you simply must read the whole series!
A note about the narrator. He is FANTASTIC and ideal for the time period. The book is worth getting for his narration alone.
Sometimes I can't decide whether to read or listen to a book but I definitely made the right decision. Thought the book was really good and made all the more enjoyable by Anton Lesser's narration which is excellent - so much so I've sought out other books with his narration and they are now on my list. He's definitely my favourite narrator alongside Martin Jarvis.
"Great story telling"
This was completely gripping from start to finish. Wonderfully descriptive and amazing narrator. I felt like I had been transport to London of old. Highly recommend it.
I love this story. I was gripped and held in the comfortable embrace of Sally Lockheart's world created by Pullman.
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