My original plan after reading The Ruby in the Smoke was to write a big review of the whole Sally Lockhart quartet because I wrongly assumed the other three books would be as short as that first book. I should have foreseen this as it happened with the His Dark Materials too. Unlike HDM, these books can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean there is not a not a hook to connect these Victorian mystery thrillers. They are definitely page turners, and while I have little experience in adult mysteries or thrillers, I’ve enjoyed the young adult ones I have read. Pullman is not a writer who writes specifically for an age group, and I’ve always been in the belief that adults should read good books no matter the intended age group, just as young adults should read adult books if they are mature enough readers for it. He has admitted on his website that he wrote them with melodramatic undertones, but resolves them in his realistic style and detail (he calls fantasy classified HDM “dark realism”). One of the highlights in this series is the ensemble cast of characters; I thoroughly enjoyed them in the first book and found it almost comforting to see how much has happened since tRiS (six years between the two books). I did not understand how engaging the book was until I found myself shocked at the climax. Well played, Mr Pullman. As much as I want to read the next book, it looks particularly intense that I’m going to hold it off for a nonfiction or two. These books require one or two sittings to finish off before bed.