Monday, January 7, 2013

REVIEW: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Dust City
by Robert Paul Weston

"I pad over and put out a paw. "Pleased to meet you, madam."
She blushes, the varicose veins in her cheeks swelling with blood. Instead of taking my paw to shake, however, she turns it over as if it's a piece of bruised fruit in a market. "Hmmm..." She pores over my palm, nodding like a fortune-teller. Her spectacles slide comically down the bridge of her nose, and when she looks up at me, her face is full of mock astonishment. "Oh, my! What big teeth you have!" She giggles and kicks her slippered feet."

Henry Whelp is the son of the wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood. This has been the defining characteristic of his existence. He is currently in St. Remus juvenile detention facility for dropping a brick onto a moving truck (a Nimbus truck like the one that killed his mother). When a sudden death reveals some lost letters from his father, Henry must break out and discover the truth of his father's crime at any cost.

Dust City is pretty straight forward, mostly plot driven. However, the world-building is really fun! All the fairy tale characters live in a modern city. The lower class live on the ground, and the rich live in Eden, the city in the clouds recently and suspiciously vacated by the fairies. The fairies used to use fairy dust to grant wishes and fulfill destinies, but now with the fairies gone, pharmaceutical companies have been making synthetic dust. Not as good as the real thing, but it can fix a headache. And the darker, stronger stuff is sold on the street.

Henry must enter this dark underworld to discover what happened to his father to turn him into a vicious killer, what happened to the fairies, and what the baddies are really up to.

I was so pleased that the author had clearly done his fairy tale homework. Cindy Rella is a social worker, and Officer White is a badass detective, but Weston also includes stories like "The Juniper Tree," "Hans-My-Hedgehog," and "The Girl with No Hands" seamlessly into the fast-moving plot.

If you are looking for a fast, fun, surprisingly dark urban fairy tale pastiche, this is the book for you!

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