Audrey's Reviews > Dust Girl

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
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's review
May 22, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: advanced-reader-s-copy-arc, fairies, historical-fiction, netgalley, series, ya

I received a digital ARC of this book via Netgalley.

The premise of this book drew me in immediately: Great Depression-era historical fiction paired with the constant clashing of the Fairie Courts in their search for the heir of the Midnight Throne. What a great combination, and one that we've seen in only limited doses (but in exceptionally well-done doses, by authors like Midori Snyder, Patricia Wrede, and Neil Gaiman -- which might be why I set the bar so high here.)

Everything here is adequate, and that's as far as I can go. Adequate writing -- clunky at times, confusing at others, crystal clear in places. Adequate characters -- there are times when I feel myself rooting for Callie, but for the most part I didn't feel connected to her at all. There definitely wasn't any connection with any of the other characters, and their motivation remained murky for much of the novel. The setting is fairly well-done, although there are some historical bobbles that I'm hoping will be fixed before final release (since this is an ARC); otherwise, one of them quite early on almost completely undermined my faith that this author knew what she was talking about.

The author tackles some bigger issues here -- identity is the most obvious one. The main character is searching for her identity, of course, as she discovers that she's not completely human. But there's also the issue of her being a mixed-race child, with a white momma and a (to all appearances) black daddy. And that's one thing that I can't decide how it settles with me: it's never completely clear but I believe, based on what I picked up, that the Midnight Court (or the Unseelie Court) are all black characters. Zettel is deftly playing with the politics of the time period, especially because the Unseelie Court is often thought to be the "bad" court or the "low" court, which would be reinforced by notions of race during the Great Depression. However, there's the question throughout the entire novel about who the good guys are, so that takes the preconceived notion and turns it upside down. The problem is that I'm not sure just how successfully Zettel pulls this off -- obviously we have two more novels in which to decide.

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