Flashback Friday: The Ruby in the Smoke

ffbutton2Flashback Friday is a weekly tradition started here at Bookshelf Fantasies, focusing on showing some love for the older books in our lives and on our shelves. If you’d like to join in, just pick a book published at least five years ago, post your Flashback Friday pick on your blog, and let us all know about that special book from your reading past and why it matters to you. Don’t forget to link up!

My Flashback Friday pick this week:

The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, #1)

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
(published 1985)

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Sally is sixteen and uncommonly pretty. Her knowledge of English literature, French, history, art and music is non-existent, but she has a thorough grounding in military tactics, can run a business, ride like a Cossack and shoot straight with a pistol.

When her dear father is drowned in suspicious circumstances in the South China Sea, Sally is left to fend for herself, an orphan and alone in the smoky fog of Victorian London. Though she doesn’t know it, Sally is already in terrible danger. Soon the mystery and the danger will deepen – and at the rotten heart of it all lies the deadly secret of the ruby in the smoke…

Before the amazing His Dark Materials trilogy, there were the Sally Lockhart books. The Ruby in the Smoke is first, followed by The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess.

Set in Victorian London, there’s intrigue a-plenty, as Sally investigates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and faces danger of all sorts, as well as a whole range of shady, nefarious people. I must admit that I never read past the first in the series, but I did like it quite a bit, and have always meant to read on.

Have you read the Sally Lockhart books? Should I finish the quartet?

And a little aside for Doctor Who fans: Hold onto your heads so they don’t explode — the TV movie version of The Ruby in the Smoke (2006) starred Billie Piper and Matt Smith. Awesome, right?

ruby in the smoke

What flashback book is on your mind this week?

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join in the Flashback Friday fun:

  • Grab the Flashback Friday button
  • Post your own Flashback Friday entry on your blog (and mention Bookshelf Fantasies as the host of the meme, if you please!)
  • Leave your link in the comments below
  • Check out other FF posts… and discover some terrific hidden gems to add to your TBR piles!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

10 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: The Ruby in the Smoke

    • I still haven’t watched it either — but I think I’d better start hunting it down! Eventually, I think I’ll finish these books. I really did like the first — but wasn’t blown away like I was by The Golden Compass.

      Have a great weekend!

  1. Considering I love his Dark Materials series I think I should definitely pick these up. Sounds like so much fun! Pullman is a fantastic author and Sally sounds like a great character. Thanks for spotlighting this one!

      • I’ve heard the audiobooks are fantastic, I should pick those up. I wish Pullman narrated those like he does with his DM series but oh well. 🙂

  2. Oh wow, what a blast from the past! I remember really liking Ruby in the Smoke and wanting to get the rest of them to come out – by the time they did I think I had forgotten about them. Now I definitely want to get the rest of the books in the series.

    • I think I’m probably in the same boat — really liked Ruby in the Smoke, and then more or less forgot to go back and read the rest… and I really should!

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