Straight up, it took me a long time to warm up to Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. I felt as though I had been dropped into it with no idea of what was going on. I didn’t immediately feel grounded in the story. Frankly, though, once I had a better sense of place and world, Dust Girl went from being a chore to read to a story that I absolutely wolfed down.
First things first – there are fairies in Dust Girl, actually, all over Dust Girl which was really a bit dismaying as I thought I was getting a Dust Bowl historical fiction, but was actually getting a fairy story set in the Great Depression. You see, the main character, Callie LeRoux is half-black and has never met her father. She and her mom run the town’s only hotel. When a giant dust storm happens and honestly, I had no idea what the frick was happening during that scene, Callie’s mom disappears. Callie discovers that she is half fey. My initial reaction was to peace on out of reading the book.
Yet, I am glad I persevered with Sarah Zettel’s young adult debut, because it has kind of a Blood Red Road vibe to it, what with the dust and the walking and all. The world building was pretty interesting, especially as I’ve never been privy to a historical fantasy set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and The Dust Bowl. I really thought the setting was unique and such a different take on magic. The fairies in Dust Girl use magic based on wishes and draw from the wishes and hopes of those around them to make things happen. It is actually kind of cool to read.
However, to be honest with you all, I did find some of the action scenes very confusing. There were various points during the book when a fight or a chase was going down and I could never really get a clear picture of what was going on in my mind. I found that to be off putting. Like, so much would be happening that I didn’t know if we were in fairy land or human land.
Also, because Dust Girl is the first of The American Fairy Trilogy, a foundation is laid for romance. Yet, we don’t get any sexytimes or even some kissing or any of that ilk. I did like the chemistry between Callie and Jake. Jake is a transient boy who mysteriously shows up, is like a human compass, and carrying a terrible burden inside. Oh yes, he’s one of those emotionally broken types and the wanting to fix him is SO legit you guys.
Finally, I want to note in this review that I wish the cover of Dust Girl had featured a girl of color instead of a white girl, because as I mentioned above, Callie is half-Black. Seriously, whitewashing does us no favors as readers and I honestly thing the cover could be so much better and less generic and ordinary looking if it was true to what is inside and accurately reflected the content.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley.
Other reviews of Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel:
The Sweet Bookshelf – “a really fun YA read with a fresh twist.”
A Cupcake And A Latte – “Captivating, magical, and completely addicting”
Bunbury In The Stacks – “Zettel has created a story that is eerie, fresh, grimy, and full of meaning, and I ate it up”