Secrets of the Snakestone

Secrets of the Snakestone

By Author / Illustrator

Piu DasGupta



Age range(s)



Nosy Crow Ltd




Paperback / softback




In this breathtaking adventure, Zelie and Jules face a deadly race to solve a family mystery and a vicious crime that stretches from the jungles of Calcutta to the sewers of Paris.   

Zelie is often accused of being a witch, but she doesn't believe in magic. Until Jules climbs up from the reeking Parisian sewer and hands Zelie the golden locket he discovered there. The locket once held the magical Snakestone, and Zelie knows that if she can find the stone, she might also find her missing father.

But a dangerous secret society are equally desperate to get their hands on the Snakestone and its powers. With their lives under threat, Zelie and Jules embark on a desperate hunt for the treasure, facing strange riddles, a mysterious circus, and the miles of murky tunnels that twist beneath the ancient city above...

Perfect for fans of Nazneen Ahmed Pathak, Abi Elphinstone and Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Watch the author introduce Secrets of the Snakestone, and find out more in our Q&A with Piu DasGupta



Zélie Dutta may be able to crush the head of a cobra with a bare heel, lick her elbow and peel a banana with her toes, but for all that she is stuck working as a maid in Paris where all the other servants think she is a witch. She has never fully understood why she has been shipped there from her happy life in Calcutta but out of love for her father she has tried to do her best. Now his letters have stopped arriving and, by chance, she finds his treasured golden locket in the hands of Jules, a boy who cleans the sewers. Something is wrong and Zélie is determined to act.

Badgering Jules into helping her, she stampedes into a picaresque adventure through the streets Paris and the maze of sewers and catacombs beneath them, following a trail of clues and riddles. She is sure that solving the mystery of the locket will lead her to her beloved father and by the time she realises the danger they are in, the only way is to keep hunting.

At the heart of Secrets of the Snakestone is a classic thrilling adventure plot but through it the author has woven fantastical legends from colonial India, vivid details of nineteenth century Paris and a rambunctious cast of characters. Zélie herself (feisty, fearless and clever) is joined by macabre doctors, sinister hooded figures, contortionists, circus strongmen – and, my favourite, an albino Amazonian sloth called Titicaca – who crowd the pages in a riotous and original tapestry of colour and life.

Happily, the whole story is also narrated in carefully crafted prose. I found it hugely entertaining and definitely one to share: it would make a perfect read aloud for upper Key Stage 2 with enough variety to appeal to a wide range of tastes. A page-turner to feed the imagination!

288 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


Secrets of the Snakestone is a thoroughly enjoyable read that thrusts you into the underbelly of 1800s Paris, joining two children in their search of a mystical stone to keep it from the clutches of an evil society.

Zélie and Jules make for enthralling characters whom you can’t help but root for. This book is unputdownable and compels you to read on through the twists, turns and mysteries of the story.

I would recommend this to Y6 classes and would use it reading comprehension to explore the incredible vocabulary that the author Piu DasGupta uses in the text.

288 pages / Reviewed by Emma Urbonas, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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