Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
In a city as mean as this, even a big bad wolf should be afraid.
And Henry Whelp is that Big Bad Wolf. Or will be, someday. His dad is doing time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, so everyone assumes crime is in Henry’s blood. For years, he’s kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves on the outskirts of Dust City – a gritty metropolis known for its black-market, mind-altering dust. And the entire population of foxes, ravens, and hominids are hooked. But it’s not just any dust the creatures of this grim underground are slinging and sniffing. It’s fairydust.
When a murder at the Home forces Henry to escape, he begins to suspect his dad may have been framed. With a daring she-wolf named Fiona by his side, Henry travels into the dark alleyways and cavernous tunnels of Dust City. There, he’ll come face to snout with legendary mobster Skinner and his Water Nixie henchmen to discover what really happened to his father in the woods that infamous night…and the shocking truth about fairydust.
I love fairy tales. And Dust City is one unique, modern fairy tale. The story follows Henry, the son of the Big Bad Wolf that killed Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Living in a home for wayward animalia, Henry’s adventure starts with a murder made to look like a suicide. Leaving the home, Henry’s on the run from the police with some help from a she-wolf, Fiona. After some revelations and hints from a father still in prison, Henry goes undercover in the largest Dust ring in the city to try and find out what really happened to the fairies of old, and maybe clear is father’s name. There are encounters with giants, nixies and hominds and a lot of twisty questions along the way.
Dust City is a gritty outlook on the traditional fairy tale, where Fairy Dust is an addictive drug, and the creatures from fairy tales are just as flawed as we are. Even the glorious floating city where the fairies used to live – and is now populated by hominids – is not the happy, shining place many people in Dust City think it is. Beneath everything is a sense of despair and fear. Henry gets dragged into the cover-up of the century, and he manages to hold his own against the most sinister of villains. Perhaps the Big Bad Wolf is so bad after all, and those creatures seen as lesser are in fact just as important as anyone else. Henry certainly is.
For a character who is a large, talking wolf, it was quite easy to forget that fact. There were numerous times that we were reminded of Henry being an actual wolf and I was surprised. But they were never huge hints – they were subtle things worked in to how Henry moves, sees, thinks or acts. Wolfish characterisitcs that shine through in the must mundane moments. I loved it. It allowed the read to connect with Henry as we would any human character in a story, but still allowed us that sense of the unknown, of a fairy tale come to life (as it were). Some evens may have seemed a little too convenient at times, but overall the story flowed well and kept me engaged from captivating beginning to crazy ending. Dust City by Robert Paul Weston is different. It’s different, and intense and so worth the read.