Early 5Bat! Review: Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

June 22, 2012 Review 5

*This title will be released on June 26, 2012*

Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy, #1)

Dust Girl

(The American Fairy Trilogy, #1)
by Sarah Zettel

Genre: Children’s Fantasy | Excerpt: Yes No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source:

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; June 26, 2012
  • ISBN-10: 0375869387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869389


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.

Book Trailer



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”.

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5 Responses to “Early 5Bat! Review: Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel”

  1. Sabrina

    This book is already on my wishlist and your review makes me even more excited to read it, so thanks!

    • Julia

      Glad you liked it, Sabrina, I hope you enjoy DUST GIRL as well! Very interesting YA adventure, hope you enjoy.

  2. Kristin @ My ParaHangover

    This was on my radar a while back but wow, it’s really that good?!! And the pacing is great?! What a great accomplishment for a first book in a series/trilogy!! I’m going to go check and make sure this is on my TBR (I tend to forget to add books when I see them…)

    • Julia

      I really liked it. This is a period of American history that I knew *of*, but not much about, which lent itself to blending with the exoticism of fairy. It’s a great adventure, my only negative was how the main character foreshadows incidents before they occur (boo) and that the book itself is a little younger than I usually read (a young YA, with just the barest hints of romance).