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Review: Dust Girl (Sarah Zettel)

Product Details:
Reading Level: upper MG or YA
Pages: 304
Publisher: June 26th 2012 by Random House Children's Books
ISBN: 9780375869389
Source: Netgalley
Read it in 2 days

Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy, #1)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’m going to go ahead and admit that I am not a fan of fairy books. I like them about as much as I like vampires and zombies. Knowing that, I was a little apprehensive about reading Dust Girl because it was marketed as a Fae story. While that was true, there were other elements that kept this from feeling like a stale fairy tale (no pun intended).

One of the things I noticed right away was the original setting. I can only recall reading one other book set in the Dust Bowl during the early 1900s. I think this is partly because of the difficulty with describing the setting in historically accurate detail. Now, take that insanely challenging setting and imagine adding a paranormal twist. That is a pretty hefty challenge for an author. Did the author pull it off? I think so. There were many subtle details that I recalled learning from my history classes and other historical books along the way (yeah, I’m a nerd like that). There were also new details that I had never heard about before. I had fun learning something new from a fictional story. (You know I looked those details up to check the accuracy! That’s the teacher in me.)

I also enjoyed the characters. Callie is bi-racial during a time when that was not socially acceptable. Her father was a black Jazz musician, or so she thought, while her mother was a white hotel worker. What Callie doesn’t realize is that the term “bi-racial” takes on a whole new meaning for her because her father is actually a Fae prince. Dun dun dun… Cue the drama. I can’t mention much of the role her father and his people have in the story because that is the majority of the conflict, but I can say how much I enjoyed that slowly developing conflict. I had the chance to meet many interesting characters in this story. I just wish I could have spent more time with some of them. (I guess that’s what book 2 is for.)

Finally, I really enjoyed the subtle mythology in this story. I think Native American mythology is not represented enough. So when a character that resembled Coyote made an appearance, I was instantly intrigued. The only thing I wondered about was that Coyote is typically described as a trickster, but the character that represented Coyote did not appear to fit that mold. Makes me wonder what will happen as this story develops more.

If you want a book that wraps up tightly and leaves you well satisfied, you should probably skip this one. There is a cliff hanger ending that left me with a lot of questions. I enjoyed my time reading through this story because the author has a great writing style. It’s very conversational in tone, which made it a smooth read.  


  1. I was a huge fan of the mythology in this one too. I knew I was going to enjoy the book the second Coyote was introduced, I really wish more authors would include him. :]


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