Book info

The Shadow In The North (1989)

The Shadow in the North (1989)
Rating
3.82 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0394825993 (ISBN13: 9780394825991)
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English
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publisher
laurel-leaf books
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The Shadow In The North (1989)
The Shadow In The North (1989)

About book: The Shadow in the North is set in Victorian England. The three central characters are; Jim, Frederick and Sally Lockhart. Sally, unusually for a woman of the times is working independently as a financial consultant. One of her clients asks her to trace some money, which was lost when the company Sally advised her to invest in, Anglo-Baltic folded. Frederick works in his Uncle’s photographic studio. Jim writes plays, which so far have been rejected and in the meantime works as a stage-hand in the theatre where the magician Mackinnon has a show. Whilst Mackinnon is performing Jim notices some villainous characters waiting for Mackinnon and helps him to escape from the theatre. Jim brings a terrified Mackinnon to the photographers studio owned by Frederick where Mackinnon reveals that he has spiritual gifts and has seen a vision of a man committing a murder just by touching his cigar case. Meanwhile Jim and Fred attend a séance held by a Nellie Budd who in amongst false statements has a genuine vision which links Sally’s clients money loss with Mackinnon’s vision of a murder. From there Sally and her associates are drawn into the murky, dangerous world of Victorian London, at the centre of which is the evil Axel Bellman. Bellman owns the company North Star, formally known as Anglo-Baltic. Bellman is revealed as a cold, merciless character that will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Bellman blackmails Lord Wytham a disgraced former cabinet member on the brink of bankruptcy, telling him he will pay £400, 000 to marry his daughter, Mary. In return he wants access to all of Wytham’s government contacts. Sally discovers that North Star is making a steam gun that would fire thousands of bullets at once and whose inventor has been killed. In a further plot twist Sally finds out that Mackinnon and Mary are married; but Mackinnon is loved by Isobel, a lady with a birthmark covering her face. As Sally, Fred and Jim get closer to the truth they put themselves in mortal danger as Bellman fights to prevent them finding out the truth. Sally’s dog is attacked and killed in an attempt to kill Sally, Nellie Budd is put in hospital with a fractured skull, plus Fred and Jim are beaten up. In the midst of all this drama, Sally and Frederick finally come to terms with their relationship. Sally realises she does not need to forsake her independence for love, she and Frederick spend the night together and agree to marry. They are awoken by a fire at the photographers where they are all sleeping, Frederick goes back in to rescue Isobel who is love sick for Mackinnon and refuses to leave; he is eventually overcome by the fire and dies. Sally is heartbroken and numb, she travels to North Star’s headquarters to confront Axel Bellman. There, she’s surprised to see he understands her loss and is compassionate. Bellman tries to persuade Sally that the gun is a good thing, it is such an awful weapon with huge ramifications that no one will want to use it or indeed any other weapon. She tricks him by agreeing to marry him in return for the money owed to her client and asks to see the steam gun. Once there she blows up the factory, killing Bellman and destroying the steam gun. The final twist is that Sally discovers she is pregnant with Fred’s child.The Shadow in the North is difficult to summarise succinctly as it has such a large and multi-layered plot. Its atmosphere and plot reminded me somewhat of Sherlock Holmes with the London setting and disguises the friends don to fool Bellman and his associates. So much is packed into the writing with lots of the different plot strands joining together at various points. The book encompasses; Victorian London, mystery, crime, friendship, drama of the theatre world as well as a love story. I liked the way that Sally, the strong female protagonist was at the centre of the plot, she is a great example for children to relate to. She fiercely values her hard earned independence, but also has room for love, she is not afraid to associate with any level of society and holds no prejudices. In addition, the value of friendship is highlighted by that between the main trio and the sense of loyalty they have towards each other. The contrast in character between Frederick, the honourable, likeable man and Bellman the cold dictator is well constructed. Overall the book is the struggle between good and evil – can Bellman justify building his Victorian ‘weapon of mass destruction’ in the guise of social good?The book is aimed at 11-12 year olds, although some children may read earlier. It could be used as additional background reading whilst studying Victorian England, children could be asked to imagine what role they would have in such a society. It could also be used to explain power struggles throughout history – the age old question of good versus evil. Or for children to do some descriptive writing such as a newspaper article on the fire in which Fred died. Personally, I am eager to find out what happens in the rest of the series!

Um, wow. I went into this book expecting a fantasy in the style of His dark materials. But it was actually a Victorian mystery. Silly me. Should have read the blurb.I thought it was an awesome read. I was hooked from the very first scene, when independent Sally, a financial consultant, is confronted by an elderly client who lost all her money. Slowly, Jim and Fred came into the picture with puzzles of their own, and they discover that all three mysteries tie up with one man.The plot was twisted and intricate, and confusing in certain places if you are not used to reading the rambling kind of way people speak. But that was realistic, actually. I was glad not to have an onslaught of information in textbook language. Because believe me, there was a lot happening in this book.I enjoyed the detached, yet detailed way in which Pullman narrates. It was a real change. The Victorian setting was pleasing to read, and the narrative plunges the reader straight into it, leaving no hint in the reader's mind that this was actually written a century later.I expected the story to be tied up in a light, satisfying way a la P.G Wodehouse. Boy, was I wrong. Nearing the end of the book, when you expect some of the puzzles to be solved, Pullman delivers a shocker. A huge punch in the gut. And THEN the mystery is solved, but the light, fluffy atmosphere is lost, and the ending becomes morose and bitter-sweet. 4 stars.
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Reviews
Katie M.
Sally Lockhart and some of the other main characters are wonderful, complex characters, but somehow the book as a whole didn't quite click for me. I'm not entirely sure why. Part of it was that the setting mostly felt like a straight-up historical mystery but then there were a few fantastical elements that didn't really feel like they fit. If you're going to do steampunk or supernatural, great, but you've got to commit to it, not just sprinkle revelations found via psychic powers in as a plot convenience. Some aspects of the ending felt forced. It's been ages since I read The Ruby in the Smoke, but I remember liking it a lot better than this sequel. It still earns three stars by virtue of a few compelling characters and some individual snappy scenes, but I don't feel particularly inclined to seek out the third one.
Michelle
Okay...this was a great little read. These books are all plot driven, but they're really interesting and have some lovable (& despisable) characters. I still think its interesting that these are for young readers b/c the evil people are pretty dang mean, but maybe that's less complicated than nice evil, which is even more frightening. This series is a good one to read when you want something interesting, but do not want to wander what long descriptions of the plant life mean in the symbolizing the emotions of your main troubled character. I would give it five stars, but I'm trying to reserve that for books that change my life, but I enjoyed this five stars even though it did not change my life. :)
Kate
I didn't realize this was the second book in the series until about half way through, but I kept on going with it since I seemed able to figure most things out that I missed in the first book. The story is so incredibly woven, with the characters being given as much attention as the unfolding mystery. There were times of incredible sadness and moments of hilarity. I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator was good - he definitely had to grow on me (he does a wonderful Scottish accent). I am now into the 3rd book, and will eventually go back to read the first.
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