Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: I love fairy tales more than I can even express, and the idea behind this book just seemed awesome.

How would I rate it: 5 out of 5 stars. I would give it 10 if I could.

My Summary: Henry Whelp’s father, George is the Big Bad Wolf. He’s been in jail for a long time now after killing both Little Red Riding Hood and his grandmother. Henry has grown up in a Home for Wayward Boys in Dust City named for the powerful mind-altering powder that is sold there through illegal channels. But this isn’t just any other drug, this is actual fairydust.

When Henry is asked to look into the matter to prove his father’s innocence by joining up with a crime boss named Skinner, he bites off way more than he can chew. Will he be able to solve the mystery or will he end up making the same mistakes that made a wreck of his own father’s life?

My Review: This book is absolutely magic, full of dark fairy tales and really fascinating characters that put the grim in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The skill with which Weston writes was exhilarating and I had a very hard time putting this book down. I refuse to give this awesome plot away, but here are some of the many reasons why I had to give Dust City 5 stars.

The real power of this story comes from Henry being so likeable and relatable. Yes his problems are out there in a lot of ways, but he’s also dealing with trying to find a way to be defined not only by his father’s actions but by his own. As someone who seems to continually pick up books where the main character frustrates me to no end, Henry Whelp was just the cure for my reading blues. He was such a sweet, troubled wolf and a terrific character to follow along from start to finish.

The world was also fantastic, and while it had some elements common to fairy tale modernizations, I felt there was a lot of originality at work. I like the idea of the fairies being gone, for example, and that all they’ve left is a ruined world where people are forced to manufacture their own fairydust that doesn’t work out nearly as well as the real thing. Weston’s vision is darker than most and easier to get immersed in.

I really liked a lot of less modernized fairy tales were added to the mix such as Hans My Hedgehog and The Girl Without Hands. I had a blast trying to figure out who certain minor characters were in cases where it wasn’t obvious. I was pleased to see Snow White as a cop, Jack as a teenage con artist and Rumplestiltskin as a mobster.  I also loved that there were so many animal characters as well and all of them living in the same sort of way humans did but with some discrimination since not everyone in Dust City approves of talking animals.

So for those in need of a change from the typical dystopian trilogy but wanting something with a lot of umph to it or anyone who has enjoyed Bill Willingham’s Fables, I heartily suggest taking a look at this book. I have a feeling it’s become lost in the shuffle and really ought to be more appreciated. I found it delightfully refreshing to read about a teenage wolf. Not a werewolf, not a shape shifter and not a wolf who can become a boy if he wants to, but an actual wolf, and not just a wolf but the son of the Big Bad Wolf. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My one regret is not reading this in 2010 because this definitely would have made a Best Of list. I hope I can remember it for the 2011 edition. In the mean time, it can definitely be part of my Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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2 Responses to Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

  1. Pingback: Vote for the 41st annual Locus Awards: April 4th – April 15th | CSI: Librarian

  2. Pingback: Best Reads of 2011 – Teen Books | CSI: Librarian

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