Market Blues


Older Children/Young Adults/


Allen & Unwin

Things unravel so fast. One day Sam is a kid with a straightforward life, next moment he’s sucked into a time warp and flung back a hundred years. Meeting Flea, Gertie and the gang is just the start of a crazy adventure with Sam on the run from police, sleeping outside the morgue, laying bets on horse races, fighting thieves and larrikins.An accident in a shooting gallery confronts Sam with the hardest decision he’s ever had to make. Can he change the past – and his own future?

The Queen Victoria Markets is in the heart of Melbourne. Originally built in 1878 beside the city’s cemetery it slowly grew to cover all the old graves. It’s not hard to imagine that wandering between the colourful market stalls, a boy could easily stumble through a time portal.

Like all great cities, Melbourne has intriguing pockets of history that most people fail to notice as they hurry past its old buildings. In Market Blues, the ghosts of a city come to life and tell their stories for a new generation.


  • Shorlisted for the Aurealis Award 2001
  • CBCA Notable Book 2002
  • Selected by the Australian Centre for Youth Literature as one of 150 Most Treasured Victorian books

Reviews of Market Blues

  • Market Blues is a wonderful evocation of turn-of-the-century Melbourne life, with a time-travelling teenager facing more than his fair share of troubles both now and a hundred years ago.
    Judges Comments Aurealis Awards
  • In Market Blues, Kirsty Murray imagines a twelve-year-old Greek-Australian boy named Sam (Savvas) Sullivan being jettisoned back in time to Melbourne in 1900. With poetically suggestive chapter titles such as ‘Arc of a Yo-yo’ and ‘Angels and Black Water’, you sense you’re in for something special here, and Murray’s deliciously crafted prose does not disappoint.This is an action-packed tale in which Federation, gambling, music and poetry each play a part. It also weaves its way around the topic of divorce and broken families, in a subtle and extremely satisfying manner. Murray has created a classic time-slip fantasy which explores Sam’s problems metaphorically, and which ‘tugs at the heartstrings’, in a moving evocation of a bygone era.
    Robyn Sheahan-Bright Australian Book Review
  • Market Blues is exciting, ambitious and unputdownable for early and pre-teenage readers.
    Mike Shuttleworth The Sunday Age
  • Magical realism in your own back yard.
    Education Age
  • Market Blues is an unpredictable and gripping narrative, incorporating a huge cast and research with apparently effortless ease…Murray won me over, drawing complex parallels between past and present that illuminated both eras.
    Jenny Pausacker Weekend Australian

Keep in Touch

Upcoming Events

  • 14 June
    WA Launch of When Billy was a Dog, 6.00 pm
    The Literature Centre, Fremantle
  • 22 June
    Puppies and Portraits, 3.00 pm
    Paper Bird Bookshop
    Further information
  • 17-28th June
    Talented Young Writers' Program
    Bunbury, Busselton & Fremantle, WA
    Further information
  • 2 August
    HASS Conference WA
    Perth, WA
    Further information

@kirstymurray on Twitter