*This title will be released on June 26, 2012*
by Sarah Zettel
Genre: Children’s Fantasy | Excerpt: Yes No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source:
Near Perfect – Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.
Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in “the golden hills of the west”: California.
Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company — there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.
I have always had a particular fear of stories set in space or deep in the ocean. Characters completely surrounded by a hostile environment, guaranteed death if fragile technology breaks down around them. I can now add “on the Great Plains during a dust storm” to my list of frightening environments, as Zettel’s opening chapters were fantastically terrifying. The image of Callie, alone in that crumbling hotel surrounded by magic and creeping dust on all sides, will stick with me for a long time.
Zettel doesn’t lose momentum after those first few chapters, either. DUST GIRL weaves The Great Depression into the narrative, and the hobos and desperation and prejudices of the time period become just as strange and foreign as the magic of fairy. Callie has a habit of commenting on her own bad decisions, which I didn’t particularly like, but the pacing of each encounter was balanced so even mis-steps didn’t overwhelm the adventure. Two parts historical setting and one part fairy tale results in a magical new look at our own world. I particularly loved how Zettel intertwines the racial and religious prejudices of the time period into Callie’s pedigree. This comprehensive effort to weave magic into reality breathes new life into both familiar fairy tales and a this part of American history.
A coming of age story that transforms our own world into an exotic moonscape of danger and magic, DUST GIRL delivers on world building and adventure. In DUST GIRL, Zettel lays claim to fairy tales and our own history in a way that is as indelible as it was enjoyable. Like the best of stories, DUST GIRL not only entertains, it asks us to take a closer look at the human need to label “us” and “them”.