Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy Book 1

by Sarah Zettel, 304 pages

This is another teen fantasy, but it has enough differences to set it apart from an increasingly large pack. The narrator's voice is so vivid you instantly perceive her as a strong character, and the setting is the American Dust Bowl of the 1930's.

Callie is in a small town in Kansas which is being buried by the huge dust storms rolling across the prairie. When the doctor packs up and leaves, Callie and her distracted mother are left alone in a big empty hotel which has seen far better days. The dust pneumonia is killing Callie, but her mother won't leave town in case the girl's father comes back for them. Callie knows her mother is deluded, and they argue. The biggest dust storm ever blows into town, and Callie's mother disappears. In her place an enigmatic Indian appears, and he seems to know about Callie's past. She learns that she is part Fey, and has special powers which she has yet to figure out. A hobo boy named Jack arrives, and soon she and Jack are bound for "the golden hills" of California.

On their journey they meet malignant spirits and some helpful ones too. Nothing is as it appears, and Callie has to learn to use her powers of special sight to save herself and Jack several times. The book ends on a hopeful note, but you know there is much more to come. The thing I liked best about the book was the authentic backdrop of the Dust Bowl. I could tell the author had read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2006. All in all, an interesting twist on the changeling theme.

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