Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Review: "The Tiger in the Well"

The third installment in Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart trilogy is The Tiger in the Well. This one was by far the best of the trio, and made me very glad I stuck with the series to the end. Without giving away too much of the plot, suffice it to say that Sally finds herself the victim of a freakishly complicated scheme to undermine her life in some pretty demented ways. As Sally seeks to clear her name and defeat those so intent on ruining her, the cast of characters expands greatly in this volume to include a fair number of gangsters from the various London underworld tribes (don't worry, they're the good guys), a few more fiends (Pullman can write a pretty good nemesis, if you ask me), and a delightfully troublesome little child.

As in The Shadow in the North, Pullman uses this book to discuss some worthwhile topics, including political persecution, the state of life for the working poor, and the treatment of immigrants in late Victorian England. Pulling these in without unduly interfering with the plot was a tricky proposition, but Pullman manages to carry it off remarkably well.

I figured out the mystery fairly early on, but that didn't diminish the excitement I felt as the end finally neared. A creepy, troubling work, and a fine one.