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Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy    by Sarah Zettel order for
Dust Girl
by Sarah Zettel
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sarah Zettel has long been one of my favorite fantasy authors for SF novels like Kingdom of Cages and her extraordinary Isavalta fantasy series. Now she ventures into YA writing in this new American Fairy trilogy, opening on Dust Girl. It's an extraordinary blend of fantasy, history and young love.

It's 1935 and Callie LeRoux lives with her mother in the Imperial Hotel in Slow Run, Kansas, part of the Dust Bowl. It's almost a ghost town. Callie suffers a constant cough from the dust that blows everywhere. Her mother insists that she always wear hat and gloves outdoors so that her cream skin does not turn brown. Her hair is black and coarse. Her mother is 'kind of crazy', staying in town after almost everyone else has left because she promised Callie's father Daniel (a black piano player) to wait for him.

After Dr. Kenny leaves town, Callie's mother insists that she play her father's piano (previously forbidden). She hopes that Callie will play her father back to them, but what comes through is raw anger, that generates a duster. Callie's mother runs into it. Seeking her, Callie rescues Baya, an Indian, instead. When he asks what he can do for her in return for helping him, she says, 'I wish I knew who I am' to which he replies, 'that's the hardest wish of all. Not even Baya can give you that one. That one you earn.'

After Baya leaves, the wealthy Hoppers show up at the hotel - they're not at all what they seem. Searching for supplies to feed them, Callie finds young hobo Jack Holland (a wannabe reporter) in the town jail and frees him. Together, they survive the Hoppers and flee. But first, Callie hears a prophecy - 'See her now, daughter of three worlds. See her now, three roads to choose. Where she goes, where she stays, where she stands, there shall the gates be closed.'

As Callie and Jack travel west, she reluctantly experiments with her magical heritage. She's helped by Miss Shimmy, one of the Midnight People, of whom Callie's father was a prince. They survive vigilante justice, Shining Ones, and a rabbit drive before venturing into a Fairyland dance marathon, where they meet Callie's grandparents - and her uncle Lorcan.

As this first episode ends, Callie has a choice to make, as does Jacob. Dust Girl is an amazing start to the American Fairy trilogy, leaving me anxious for what comes next!

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