by Robert Paul Weston
9781595142962, $16.99, Razorbill (Penguin)
Dust City combines fairy tales, paranormal characters, futuristic science, and a dash of adventure and romance in this new Young Adult novel by the author of Zorgamazoo, a 2008 Booklist top ten debut title.
Henry Whelp is the son of the Big Bad Wolf. You know, the one who murdered Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother? As the son of a famous murderer, Henry is content to keep his head down and not cause any trouble at Dust City’s Home for Wayward Wolves. Unfortunately, most of the other kids at the Home are troublemakers, so that’s a little difficult. Especially in a town like Dust City, known for its black-market dealing of mind-altering fairy dust concoctions.
You see, years ago, fairies used to populate Eden, the city above Dust City. Their fairy dust would grant miracles and wishes by bringing about the fairy dust recipient’s full potential. Within minutes of inhaling the fairy dust, a painter would create a masterpiece, a musician would compose an opus, and so on. Sadly, though, the fairies all disappeared one day, leaving a population hooked on fairy dust but without a reliable source. That’s where the evil steps in. Nimbus Thaumaturgical is a company run by two brothers that found a way to create a synthetic dust substitute using leftover fairy dust mined from the hills of Eden. Some of their medicine is sold over-the-counter for relieving small headaches, healing small cuts, basically small miracles like that. What most people don’t know is that the rest of the dust is sold through Skinner, Dust City’s famed mobster, and his Water Nixie crew, on the underground (literally) black market.
When Henry’s best friend Jack escapes the Home (with the help of a few beans), and a murder takes place, Henry knows it’s time for him to leave as well. A clandestine trip to his father in prison gives Henry some new information – Henry’s father believes the fairies are still alive and have been kidnapped, forced to produce evil dust for Nimbus Thaumaturgical. Henry’s father inhaled some of the evil dust on the night he killed Red and her grandmother. If Henry can find out if the fairies do still exist, he may be able to prove his father’s innocence. AND, he may be able to work a deal with the fairies to bring back the mother who died many years ago, accidentally killed by a Nimbus Thaumaturgical truck. To do this, though, Henry will need to go deep into the underworld, become one of Skinner’s runners in the drug trade, and try to uncover the secret behind the manufactured dust. All without being found out, getting addicted to the dust himself, or ending up dead. With a sexy female wolf named Fiona by his side (who happens to be the sister of his biggest rival, Roy), how can he fail?