Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman - Book Review

Publisher's write-up

Sally Lockhart is sixteen, an orphan and she's just struck a man dead. Not with a weapon, though she has a pistol, and probably the heart to use it. Sally killed Mr. Higgs with just three words – The Seven Blessings. Unfortunately, she still has no idea what they mean and why her father's colleague died of fear when he heard them. Sally only knows that she'll do anything, say anything, be anything to find out...”

The Ruby in the Smoke is a book written by the author of the author of the His Dark Materials Trilogy, Philip Pullman. This is the first book of the Sally Lockhart series, whose sequels are The Shadow in the North, Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess. This is a mystery novel and can be categorised under juvenile fiction.

The main character in this book is Sally Lockhart. She is around 16, and is more like a girl of today, unlike a girl of her time(late 18th century). She is brave, is willing to handle things on her own, knows to use a pistol , accounting and some Hindustani. The other protagonists in this book are Frederick Garland and Jim Taylor. Frederick Garland is a photographer and is a part of his uncle's business. He is highly passionate about his work and doesn't care about the profits that he makes. Jim Taylor is an office boy in Sally's father's office. Jim Taylor is a also a brave person, a good fighter and has a very good vocabulary.

The story happens in Victorian England, 1872 to be precise. Sally Lockhart's father, Captain Matthew Lockhart is dead. His ship had drowned in the East Indies. Sally's mother had died long ago, during the Sepoy mutiny in India, 1857. Sally is now an orphan, with no money and she is under the custody of an uncaring relative. Her father was in the army, and then, he had quit and started a partnership firm, with his friend Samuel Selby. Unfortunately, just before his expedition to the Far East, he had sold his partnership for 10,000 pounds and his lawyer doesn't know where the money is.

There is a ruby, which the British Forces had obtained, during the Mutiny from the Maharajah of Agrapur and the Ruby rightfully belongs to Sally, but she doesn't know where it is and there are several clues. She is not alone in this quest, she also makes a couple of friends. She didn't want to live with her relative and approached Garland, who gave her a room and she became an accountant in his firm. But, she does have an opposition. There is a woman named Mrs. Holland, who is willing to do anything to get the ruby. She has spies everywhere and doesn't care about killing people in order to get the ruby. If Sally has to win this battle, she has to defeat Mrs. Holland, which is not going to be an easy task.

The concept of this book is fantastic. It is not easy to write a story which happens in 1872 in the late 20th century. Along with the brilliant concept, the language, description of old London, characters, everything is just fantastic. The author has done a lot of research in the history of colonial Britain and has not made any factual error. The best thing about this book is it has only one theme, no digressions, no boring sub-plots, just 209 pages concentrating on this one theme.

This is an excellent book. I'm willing to suggest this book to anyone. Even if no one asks for a suggestion, I myself may suggest this book to someone. This book was so interesting that a slow reader like me could complete it over two days, four hours to be precise. Considering its concept, language, description, story, there is no reason for me to deny a 9 / 10 for this book.

Rating – 9 / 10

Have a nice day,



  1. Andy rating a book 9!? I am DEFINITELY looking forward to reading the book.Thanks for the review!

  2. I have already given you a synopsis of this book to you, long ago. It won't be a problem for you since it is only 200 pages. Thanks for the comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...