Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dust Girl review

Dust Girl
by Sarah Zettel
Random House Books for Young Readers
June 2012

First line: "Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie."

I was highly skeptical when I heard about this faery-inspired alternate history that takes place in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. I had trouble imagining how heartless foreboding faeries (which I always picture as woodland dwellers) would fit into the dry and dusty climate of 1935 Kansas. It turns out Zettel did an amazing job - the malevolent otherworldly creatures are masters of illusions, and are fond of extracting promises which they honor to the letter if not the spirit.

Callie LeRoux is growing desperate as her mother has disappeared and money and supplies at their bed and breakfast are running perilously low. Naturally, no new business is forthcoming, as the remote village of Slow Run is quickly becoming a ghost town. People are abandoning their lives, picking up and moving away in the night, in hopes of finding any kind of relief from the crushing poverty they face in Kansas.

Callie's certain the sudden arrival of the haughty and demanding Hopper family, clearly well-to-do, is just the stroke of luck that will help her pull things together. Unfortunately, she couldn't be more wrong. She and hobo runaway Jack end up fleeing for their lives, as Callie struggles to hide her biracial heritage from both humans and fae. I loved the imagery of the evil fae as locusts over the land. Much of the book feels lonely as Callie flees across the empty Midwest towards California. You know that dream you have where you're being chased and you're running and running, but just can't seem to get away? It feels like that. This book was a lot scarier and less romantic than I had thought. I'd recommend this for mature middle-grade and teen readers who enjoy a bit of a scare along with their history.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.


  1. I enjoyed this one, and am looking forward to the sequel, Golden Girl, lots! The grasshoper things are especially nightmarish...and I actually hope they don't show up again in book 2!

  2. Yup, yup, I had trouble imagining how traditional trickster fairies were going to fit in to the Dust Bowl, but as soon as locusts showed up in the story I was hooked.



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