Published by Penguin on September 30th 2010
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Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed. Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner. Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?
Dust City has been sitting on my shelves for a while now and a book I had been meaning to read. A mix of fairy tales and a dark setting, Dust City tells the story of Henry Whelp, the son of the murdered who killed Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. In this world there is the city and then there is Eden, a place where the rich and beautiful live. Henry is a wolf, he actually looks like one and he lives in a home of sorts, one he finds he must escape after the death of his psychologist at the Home.
In this city, there is all types of Dust but it’s the fairy dust of old that contains magic. Unfortunately, all the fairies have disappeared. Only his father seems to think he knows where they went and Henry escapes to visit him so he can find out the truth. Henry’s not the type to give into violent or criminal urges, but finds himself part of Skinner’s gang as a dust runner so he can figure out where the fairies are and possibly resurrect his mother from the grave.
Henry would like nothing more than to forget about his murderous father and start a life of his own, but he has no other family. He’s a wolf and there’s few jobs out there for the likes of him. I found him an interesting character in a setting that reminds me of the black and white of Sin City. Even more so, I found the most interesting character to be Snow White, a police officer who constantly is trying to capture Henry and bring him back to the Home. She’s strong and can match a wolf in a fight. I love the gruffness of her character and her banter with Henry during their encounters.
Overall, I thought Dust City was an interesting spin on fairy tales, with it’s own story and combining elements from several fairy tales, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, the Frog Prince, and more. Also, it’s hard to put Dust City into any age category as I think many adults will appreciate the darkness of the book, but it’s not violent and contains no sexiness besides a kiss or two, so I could even see middle graders reading this one.