This thriller, by the author of The Ruby in the Smoke, evokes its 19th century setting and at the same time remains remarkably contemporary in the originality of its plot and larger-than-life characters. An unabridged reading of Philip Pullman's nerve-shattering thriller.
©2009 Phillip Pullman; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
A dark and very fast-paced thriller, this book will have the listener gripped from start to finish. Capturing the feel of Victorian London, and the harsh atmosphere of it's underworld. Narrated in fine style by Anton Lesser.
This is the 2nd in the series, the first book is called 'The Ruby in the Smoke' is not on audible at the moment. The narrator is really good and the characters engaging, over all a really enjoyable book.
I love the classics, history, fantasy, the odd thriller - I will try most genres if the plot description appeals.
I had previously listened to the Ruby in the Smoke and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was pleased to find that the story of the characters continued in The Shadow in the North. This book takes place a couple of years after the first, and Sally has set herself up as an independent financial advisor. A customer visiting to complain about some bad advice leads her to start investigating a crooked firm and its shadowy owner alongside her friends from the previous story. They are drawn into a dark web of intrigue involving an ageing medium, a stage magician, a government minister who has fallen on hard times, a deformed seamstress and a lot of danger. The story never falters and the pace never lets up - I was gripped to the end.
The end of story when Sally takes her revenge on Axel Bellman is very dramatic - I didn't expect it to be quite so explosive, but it fit in well with the steampunk theme.
A tender moment between Sally and Fred, when she finally realises how much he means to her. You sympathise with him from the start of the novel as it is clear that he has been in love with her since he first saw her walking along the seafront and hid her in his photographer's tent in the first novel. She treats him rather badly in The Shadow in the North, though her reasons are somewhat understandable as she desperately wants to retain her independence at a time when married women effectively became the property of their husband. However it is also obvious that the bohemian Fred would never have tried to control Sally in that way, so the reader is rooting for him throughout.
This book made me weep real tears of sadness - I'm not going to say why as it is such as shocking moment and really changes the motivations of the characters after the event - you need to be suffering from the impact in the same way to truly empathise with their actions afterwards.
Masterly writing and compelling story telling by Philip Pullman are brilliantly narrated by Anton Lesser. I don't think I've ever enjoyed an audiobook as much as this one. Anton Lesser's narration is absolutely fantastic. He brings every character to life.
I love the whole Lockhard series. If you have seen the terrible first movie, Ruby in the Smoke, then don't worry. The books are nothing like the film. The book is superbly written and amazingly narrated.
However, I notice at the time of writing the review that the narrator has changed. It used to be Anton Lesser, who was amazing. Now the narrator is Philip Pullman himself. Check that before buying the book.
Not quite as complex as the Lyra books, but still very gripping.
If you're worried about Philip being a lesser narrator than Anton, don't be. The two sound, eerily, near-indistinguishable. And I've never seen them both in the same room. Significant? You decide.
I love Philip Pullman and whilst the Sally Lockhart series are not in the same league as Northern Lights they are still a good listen, interesting and gripping. I have downloaded them all! I also love Philip Pullman's narration.
I think (I hope) that this book was written for children, it may be a good listen for an 8/10 year old.
The story was far too complicated for the quite simple plot. I find it hard to believe that someone of Pullman's reputation actually wrote this. It was filled with unnecessary plot lines and far too much emotion, once he started to convey the emotion in a scene, it was as if he didn't know where to stop.
Not his finest.
If that is an example of Pullman's work I don't think I'll risk another.
"As good as Book 1"
I strongly advise you to read Book 1, The ruby in the smoke, first. This sequel will not disappoint you; it's a different story, but just as good. Sally, Jim and Fred are 6 years older, and their relationships and character development are intriguing. Some new characters are also fascinating. As for the story, it's brilliantly written with not a dull moment. Don't be fooled by Audible's blurb; Anton Lesser reads this book too. He could make a shopping list sound interesting, but this is no shopping list.
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