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.
"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.
Thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, great narration looking for more by Anton Lesser. Kept you enthralled with his array of brilliant voices.
This is the first in a series of four books featuring the wonderful heroine Sally Lockhart. The grimy, smoky world of Victorian London is vividly brought to life and I would rank this book as one of my favourites.
Jim Taylor the cheeky office boy who has the heart of a lion when it comes to defending his friends stands out amongst a cast of excellent characters.
Having read the book and listened to the audio book Anton Lesser brings the characters to life so vividly that re-reading the book you can hear his voice. The sinister tones of the horrible Mrs Holland actually make you shudder - no wonder she caused such fear among her workers. He is a master at reading audio books and I would always choose a book read by him.
It's a page-turner - as you're swept along in the increasingly sinister machinations of Mrs Holland and the vices and crimes of London you can't stop listening until you find out what happens to Sally. Be prepared for some major twists and turns in the plot.
If you enjoy this and want to know what happens next to Sally, listen to the second book "The Tiger in the North".
"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.
"A layered and satisfying listen"
I was not sure what to expect after "His Dark Materials" which I enjoyed with my children several years ago. There has been a rash of badly written Victorian detective novels throwing shapes at Sherlock Holmes but this is not one of them. As the series unfolds you realise that you are experiencing the work of a master craftsman. Philip Pullman knows how to tell a story and what's more he knows how to write, and then some. The main character is multi dimensional and fully realised maturing and taking responsibility as the books hold an impressive character arc across the stories in each novel. We listened to the first book on a car trip and on reaching our destination purchased the next two available on Audible and consumed over meals and evening relaxation. There is a fourth and we await its recording. The history, social observation, ethical concerns and impacts of technical progress and violence are so skillfully interwoven that you are enlightened before you notice. A rare set of books with perfect narration like this does not come along often so grab it. This series provoked great discussions with my teenage kids. Months later we are still discussing the story, the characters, the ethical questions and the thoroughly enjoyable experience listening to this book and its sequels gave to us as a family. A layered and satisfying listen for everyone.
"Good Thriller - Great Narrator"
I read this for two reasons: I love Anton Lesser as a narrator and I like fiction set in Victorian times. There is a nice Dickensian feel to the characters and the structure of the story, and Lesser does a great job at giving direction to the simplest of sentences. Worth a listen!
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