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.
©2002 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2002 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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.
"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.
"The Sally Lockhart Quartet by Philip Pullman"
Yes I will definitely read again, it isn't strictly an adult book, but it doesn't preclude adults, as with all Pullman novels it is rich in descrption with a great plotline, and although it is rather predictable at times, you still want to see if you are right,The re-readable factor is there because it's an all action plot with lots of twists and turns that can that reveals more when listening again.
Audible is great, they have most books not all, but as they grow hopefully they will extend their library of downloads, There are titles I have searched for but they don't have them, although I do buy the cds because I have had my laptop stolen, and lost everything I had dowloaded through the years.
I am a huge Philip Pullman fan from reading His Dark Materials Trilogy many years ago.I think Dark Materials cannot be surpassed, unless he write a fourth book.
I was devastated when they attempted to make a film of it, when I found out I couldn't wait to see it and expected it to be visually stunning done in keeping with The Harry Potter films, instead they completely missed the mark, it was nothing like the book, if they'd had the guts to go with the way the Harry Potter books were individually made, it would have been a rave, sadly they homogenized the 3books, mixed and changed the characters and Order of the events, it was full of miscasted actors and destroyed an excellent story.
With Ruby in the Smoke, the BBC made a film on the single book Ruby in the Smoke and it was ok, I thought Billie Piper was a good Sally. I liked the complexity of its twists and turn and being set in Victorian Times, it has a Dickensian mood about it and that makes it interesting, the inhibitions of the age period. I think that's why they maybe struggled bringing Dark Materials to film, it requires imagination because it's set in another world.
This can translate easily to a film.
Within the Dark Materials Trilogy, each book has three parts, so essentially you are looking at a possible nine books, they are longer than the Potter books and waaaay more fascinating and wonderful, perhaps the imagery couldn't be done, but with the way the use of cgi is used now, it could have been awesome.
The same can be said of The Sally Lockhart Quartet. There is so much meat on the bone.
Classic Pullman books are full, the characters are fleshed out, with exciting cliffhangers at the end of chapters
If I were to say my favourite scene it wouldn't be fair to those who haven't read or heard it.
I would be giving away spoilers. But I will say I was quite shocked by the where the Ruby ended up! and obviously I liked it when the baddies get their comeuppance.
Enter the Victorian age to experience this exciting thriller where secrets must be revealed through the danger of opium to understand the mysterious cursed Ruby.
This is the first book in the Sally Lockhart series, and the fourth is left open to a possible fifth book, the potential is there and Philip Pullman has said it is a possibility, although he has said he can't start on it yet.
This is only the second audio book I've listened to. I love Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which I've read several times and thought I'd start my audiobook journey with some of his other series.
The characters are original and unlikely with the story taking lots of twists and turns. i like the unexpected aspect most of all. The theme of destiny pulling the main character towards her own darkness makes me want to hear the second book right away.
Lesser's transformation between characters is brilliant. He makes Mrs Holland sound especially evil.
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".
"A steampunk mystery"
I would put The Ruby in the Smoke in the top ten of audiobooks I have listened to - although aimed at young adults and being a relatively short novel, I found I couldn't stop listening when I got the chance and finished it in a couple of days. I had never read any Philip Pullman novels before but on the strength of this one I have purchased six more and downloaded the BBC adaptations of this novel and its sequel.
There are elements of Dickens, Pratchett - all kinds of influences are apparent - but I couldn't say that it reminded me of any particular novel
Anton Lesser produced a convincing performance that never intruded on the narrative - his Sally was surprisingly good.
I don't think there were any especially moving moments (though this is more than made up for by the sequel novel), it was generally quite upbeat despite delving into some murky issues.
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