Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
by Sarah Zettel
Series: The American Fairy Trilogy #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
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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 aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.
Dust Girl is the first novel in the American Fairy Trilogy by Sarah Zettel. It takes place in Slow Run Kansas during the time of the great Dust Bowl. Zettel offers us an interesting tale of dark and light fairies, danger and discovery. Fans of folk lore, history and fairies will delight in this tale.
We meet protagonist Callie LeRoux at her home, a grand hotel in Slow Run. The town is all but deserted due to the dry conditions. Sand and dust have affected her health but her mother refuses to leave. Callie’s father, a man she has never met promised he’d return. When a horrific dust storm occurs and Callie’s mother goes missing, a mysterious man appears. He tells Callie she must head west to California to find her parents. The tale and the journey offer Callie insight about herself, her parents and her destiny. The journey is difficult as Callie must determine who to trust and who to run from. Filled with twists, murder and strange creatures this tale was entertaining.
Callie is unique in more ways than one. She is of mixed color at a time when society had strict rules regarding race.(although the cover in no way reflects this) In a lot of ways Callie has had to be an adult, since her mother has obvious issues. Callie quickly learns that she is only half-human and watching her discover her powers was fun. She is tough, smart and surprisingly level-headed, despite all that is occurring. I loved some of her kick-butt action scenes. Jack is street-wise and sensitive. He cares for Callie and tries to help her. He knows the streets and every con imaginable. He is also welled versed in lore and is able to offer Callie clues about the parties involved and her role in it. At one point I disliked his actions, but he did redeemed himself. The Fae bring us an odd mix of colorful characters. There are two groups The Seelie and the Unseelie. Both want Callie in their court and ultimately she will need to decide.
The world building was fascinating. Zettel swept us back in time and I felt like I was there. Her depiction of the period was breathtaking and I could taste the dust. Callie is the center of a prophecy and both Fae kingdoms are vying for her. This created a lot of twists, turns and heart-palpitating moments. Mixed into this fantasy, Zettel touches on the topic of prejudice. She focuses on race as well as social classes. A scene towards the end is steeped in religion and I had to reread to understand exactly what happened. This was the only bump in an otherwise evenly paced tale. At this time there is no romance, and I am curious to see what happens next.
I would recommend Dust Girl to fans of historical fantasy. While I didn’t completely flip over this book, Zettel offered a unique world with imaginative characters and I look forward to reading book two.
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