Book Review: In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber

In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber by L.A. Meyer
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Genre: Historical, YA, Adventure
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2008

In all of the places of the world where Jacky Faber felt that she might be safe, she considered the Lawson Peabody School for girls high on the list. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Jacky and her schoolmates board a small ship for what’s supposed to be a day outing but quickly turns into the most dangerous adventure that Jacky’s ever experienced.

What started out as a simple field trip has turned into the girls of the Lawson Peabody School being transported to Africa to be sold as slaves. Thankfully they have Jacky and her years of experience dealing with sailors and pirates. It’s a hard road as the girls need to come together, form a plan and figure out how they can get out of this mess with their virtue and their lives in tact.

Though this book easily fits in with the others in the series, it’s not for the faint of heart. Listed by the publisher as 8th grade and up, I would highly recommend these books for older teens – juniors/seniors in high school at the very least. Jacky’s adventures in this book are highly mature – young girls on a boat with pirates who want nothing more than to sell them? You can imagine the direction the story takes. These young girls are in a fight for their very lives and there are moments when this is described in very explicit detail.

Still, as difficult as it was to experience this horrifying thing with these girls, I did enjoy the book. Jacky, once again, shows insight and cunning far beyond her years and teaches the girls how to be self sufficient and stay safe. And even though L.A. Meyer seems to enjoy torturing our 16 year old protagonist, he doesn’t ignore previous exploits. Nightmares and fears haunt Jacky and keep her on the edge of what seems to be an inevitable nervous breakdown.

This book wasn’t my favorite of the series, but I still wouldn’t have missed it. The adventures were scary and it was hard to actually ‘enjoy’ while reading (actually listening to the audiobooks made it even more difficult this time around) they shape Jacky into the  young woman that she becomes for future adventures.

Again, the audiobooks are exemplary. Acted out with exquisite detail and incredible production value, these are once again, highly recommended. They are, without a doubt, the best audio versions of books that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. If you have time on your hands to listen but not read, I cannot more highly recommend these audio adaptations. As I mentioned once before, even if you own the print versions and have read them, the audiobooks are a must!

Rated R: I’d definitely stick with older teens for this book. Horrific situations, violence, sexual tensions and other mature experiences are all throughout this book. It’s labeled as 8th grade and up, but if your readers are younger, I highly recommend parents reading first!

Review copy provided by the publisher and Listen and Live Audio. Thank you!