Sally finds herself set up by an unknown enemy, standing to lose absolutely everything and everyone she ever cared about. She fights to discover why this has happened suddenly, as her situation becomes ever more dire. Pullman introduces the story of the 1880's pogroms against the Russian Jews as a tangentially-related issue to Sally's own problems. I found the presentation of the Anti-Semitism of that era not effectively presented. It seems almost as though the first book stands on its own, with the focus of the next two being an anti-czarist message expressed through Sally's life story.