Book Review for – The Ruby in the Smoke (A Sally Lockhart Mystery)

Title: The Ruby in the Smoke (A Sally Lockhart Mystery)
Author: Phillip Pullman
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1985
Rating: ****
Format: Listened to audiobook from
For: 7th graders and up

Sixteen-year old Sally Lockhart is not your average girl living in England in 1872.  Her mother was a Cossack who died fighting an enemy while holding her baby daughter. Her father raised Sally by himself, teaching her to shoot a pistol, ride horses, and balance shipping accounts. Sally’s father dies in a shipwreck while he’s away sorting out some mysterious problems with his shipping business.  Sally begins to suspect his death was not an accident when she receives an anonymous letter confirming her suspicions that her father was murdered.  Her search for the truth about her father’s death leads her down a path of danger, intrigue, and adventure.

The Ruby in the Smoke is an entertaining tale set in Victorian London.  The audiobook version is excellent.  The narrator gives each character their own distinctive voice.  Parents should know there is a good deal of violence in this story and a plot surrounding opium, but there’s nothing a teen in 7th grade or above couldn’t handle.  It would make a fun audiobook for teens and their parents during a car trip. 

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