I prefer this first Sally Lockhart book to any of the Dark Materials series.
The book is set in the 1870s and the protagonist is a 16 year old girl whose father has died under mysterious circumstances and she receives a letter posthumously from him that warns of danger to herself.
As a young girl all alone in Victorian England, options and society is very limited to her, yet she finds allies and friends to help her solve the mystery of her father’s letter and death, revealing the dark underworld of the opium trade between England and China, the Triads and the thugs from London’s Docklands, all surrounding a priceless blood ruby from an Indian maharaja and a strange connection to her.
The Ruby and the Smoke is a gripping and quick read. I had watched the TV series years ago and enjoyed it, so when I came across the book, I was happy to see that the TV series hadn’t cut any parts out of the original story, as TV adaptations often do.