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.