Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy #1) by Sarah Zettel

When I first read the series name after Dust Girl‘s title, I thought, “Not another trilogy…” Still, I had to try it! For one thing, I’m an Oklahoman, and the story is set during the Dust Bowl. It’s set in Kansas, not Oklahoma, but still, solidarity! More importantly, it’s about American fairies! I love European fairies like crazy, but I think I can safely say they’re overdone. I don’t mean I can safely say it because it’s true, by the way. I mean I can safely say it because I have iron above my door. Don’t talk bad about the fairies, y’all. They’re mean. Anyway, I expected a dull old time from this book, but I had to give it a shot.

Did Dust Girl blow me away like a twister, or leave me with a gritty taste in my mouth?

Dust Girl cover artDust Girl

by Sarah Zettel

Random House Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 0375869387, June 26, 2012

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 sorry, Dust Girl. I’m sorry I expected you to be boring. Can you ever forgive me for my poor judgment? You’re an engaging, vibrant, and original story with prose that sets the scene perfectly. You captured the suffocating sand-and-sting of a dust storm, the mind-muddling powers of the Unseelie Court, the bold soul of ragtime.

I’m sorry I expected you to be a white-washed flitter-flutter princess book. Blame it on the “look another pretty girl on a YA cover” cover art that gives an incorrect impression of your contents. Clever, resourceful Callie had me in her corner from the first chapter. As I journeyed with Callie and that young rogue Jack, I never knew who they could trust, where they could safely turn on their harsh road. Not only did they face a family of ravenous fae monsters and a vengeful zombie, Callie and Jack faced the starvation, despair, terrible weather, and racial tension of their time period. Oh, and that part with the rabbits? I hate that such a thing ever happened, but I love that you didn’t shrink from the truth of the time period. I love that you tied fantasy into history, the locusts representing the hunger of the time period, the zombified racist railroad bull, the scorned half-black girl with her great worth made invisible to society by her color. I love that you tied in a dance marathon and Count Basie. For young readers, I believe you will make learning fun!

I’m sorry I thought you shouldn’t be a series. Now that I’m finished reading you, I am excited about your sequel! Please include more about Coyote and continue to delight me with your ability to fuse myth and history into something magical.

Overall Rating: 4.25 of 5

***This review refers to an electronic galley provided by the publisher via Netgalley. No money changed hands in the writing of this review, unless you count the money I pay OG&E to keep my electricity running.***