Book: Dust Girl
Author: Sarah Zettel
Published: June 26, 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher, via NetGalley
It's not easy being half-black and half-white, or living in a dying little Kansas town during the Dust Bowl, or watching your mother's ludicrous faith that your father will return, when you've never seen him in all your thirteen years. But somehow Callie's doing all of that. And life isn't about to get any easier, because she's just discovered that her father was not only a black man, but a fairy as well, prince of the Midnight People. And as the princess and last heir to the throne, she's the top of everyone's list . . . and not in a good way.
But Callie's got weapons she never dreamed of, and if she masters them fast, she may just make it out alive. Callie's got to find her mother, she's got to find her father. But before all of that, she's got to find herself.
I've been hearing good things about this book. The premise intrigued me. A story set in Depression era America, woven together with Americanized fairy lore? Possible mashup heaven. Then I read it and oh yeah, definite mashup heaven. From the moment Callie realizes that the strange new guests at her mama's hotel are really giant locusts in disguise to the moment that the long black train pulls up on a Kansas City sidewalk, this was a wild and wonderful ride.
But what really knocks this book out of the park for me is the way that history and fairy lore weave together. For every wish granted, for every mythical monster that strolls on the stage, there's something equally strange but true to anchor it. Callie's first attempt at magic calls forth a huge dust storm. They get caught in the middle of a rabbit drive, trying to escape from a murderous zombie. The climax of the novel is set during a dance marathon, (with the band led by none other than Count Basie). The effect is that for everything that human beings have dreamed up, human reality has produced something stranger.
Wild and weird, rich and textured, this is a freaking amazing book. And I want more.
Music, particularly the folk music of the Depression, plays an enormously important role in this novel. So here's a treat for you: