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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Ruby in the Smoke - Philip Pullman

Read for the 2011 YA and RIP VI Reading Challenges.

Sally Lockhart has recently lost her father, and is now living with an aunt she barely knows and having to find her own way in Victorian London. She had a rather unconventional childhood, her father always believed in teaching her to take care of herself – she even owns a pistol.

Her father was a shipping agent, and died at sea, and it takes a little while for his final letter to reach her – and it’s a mystery. He tells her to “Beware the Seven Blessings”, and when she visits his company to try and find out what this could mean, the clerk that she talks to dies of fright before her.

I do have to give Pullman credit for weaving a pretty complicated, fairly scary plot. He’s definitely not afraid to through some good, adult fright into a YA book. There’s quite a bit going on here, and while the initial mystery is solved, there’s plenty left to explore, as this is the first book of a trilogy. I’ll definitely be tracking down the next two.

I should add, there was a BBC (I think) adaptation done of this book a while back, starring Billie Piper and Matt Smith, of (separately) Doctor Who fame. I did watch that, and remember liking it, but oddly enough, had no memory of what happened when I read that book. Which was probably a good thing – heightens the mystery and all.


Kailana said...

hm, I have actually never heard of this before. I will have to look into it!

Megan said...

It's actually been around for a while. I think it predates the His Dark Materials series.

Carl V. said...

Ah, I wondered why that title sounded so familiar. I think I've seen that title on Netflix. I need to watch it since I like Billie Piper so much.

Funny seeing a Phillip Pullman book with this kind of cover on it. Doesn't look like the stuff I am more used to seeing his name on.

Megan said...

Yeah, it is kind of a strange cover, but I think it's because it's an older one. Most of the versions in the cover screen on LibraryThing have Billie Piper in them.

Shelley said...

I was thinking the same thing about the cover, and it certainly doesn't say "scary" or anything. But it sounds really good.

bookswithoutanypictures said...

I read this a few years back and loved it. The whole trilogy is good. I think it's neat the way that he managed to portray an independent woman in Victorian England.

L.L. said...

I loved this book, and I had NO CLUE that there was a BBC adaptation. You have definitely just made my day!