Book Review – The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman

Sally Lockhart is a rare woman in Victorian England. She’s a single mother, competent, independent, and a successful and prosperous business owner. She has never been married, so when she is served with divorce papers, she cannot understand how such a mistake could be made. It soon becomes clear it is not a mistake. The details about her in the document are correct — all except one. She has never met the man claiming to be her husband, the man who wants to take custody of her daughter.

I would not have labeled this a YA book. There is nothing juvenile about it. It is a suspenseful Dickensian story of vengeance, greed, cruelty, and corruption, which vividly captures the social conflicts of the time. The images of Victorian London are detailed and clear. The contrasts between rich and poor, worker and owner are sharp. The only YA aspect may be a carryover from the first book in the series, The Ruby in the Smoke, in which Sally is first introduced as a 16-year-old orphan. I didn’t see that book as specifically YA either, though.

My only criticism, and it’s not a strong one, is that I thought Sally should have been a bit quicker on the uptake in identifying the real force behind her troubles. I figured it out long before she did, but then I, as a reader, understand this is a novel and therefore must make sense. Real life, of course, is not like that.

I highly recommend this book to all readers, especially those fond of Victorian mysteries. It’s a great story.

Related Post:
Book Review – The Ruby in the Smoke

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About Dave

A reader and writer of speculative fiction. See my website for more information on me and my writing. https://dlmorrese.wordpress.com/

Posted on September 14, 2012, in 5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The Tiger in the Well is another impressive edition to the Sally Lockheart trilogy. It’s interesting to see that with each novel Sally matures and turns into a really strong woman. Although the Tiger in the Well is not as good as the 2nd novel in the trilogy, the Shadow in the North, it is definitely worth reading. I’m just still surprised that these novels have been put into the YA section when the only real YA book would probably be The Ruby in the Smoke, and even that can be considered an adult novel. The sequel novel to the trilogy, The Tin Princess, is on my shelf and ready to be read.

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