Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone, when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in “the golden hills of the west” (California).
Along the way she meets Jack a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.
It took me half the book to get really invested into the novel and Callie and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Callie reads very differently as a character. I would have said differently than I am used to but really, that is not the case. I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why it’s difficult to get immediately immersed into the story but I think it might be because Callie’s “voice” is much younger than what I was expecting. There’s this skein of immaturity running through her observations which, while not unattractive, is a bit jarring. Plus, I think I had a bit of problem with the world building. I would have appreciated some more details about what’s happening, something more exact.
However, once the novel finds its pace and gets comfortable with the story it’s telling, it becomes compelling and the reader (me) is able to make a connection to Callie, her parental issues and her burgeoning feelings for the boy who has become the impetus for the journey she is undertaking. And okay, I have a gripe with the cover of the novel. Callie is clearly African American so why is the model on the cover white? I would understand if the issue remained ambiguous in the novel but her colour is one of the themes of the novel and since it is such a strong theme, I would have appreciated that the cover reflect the protagonist because generally that’s what covers are meant to do, no?
The mythology needs to more work. The thing is, the novels functions very strongly where the characters are concerned, Callie’s voice is distinct, the other characters are solidly developed and the internal conflicts that occur within Callie are well portrayed. The second half of the book is way stronger than the first in terms of plot pacing and development. And it ends on a good note too which makes me have higher hopes for the second book in the trilogy. I just hope there’s more world building (and the cover story is straightened out). Gah, my review is definitely scattered but take this from it if you will: if you can get yourself to read beyond the first half, you will definitely enjoy the book. It’s a different take on the fairies and I actually appreciate the way Zettel has woven in African American culture into her narrative. But what the novel is trying to do is undermined by the cover and…yeah.