Review Blog

Jul 18 2019

Devils unto dust by Emma Berquist

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Greenwillow, 2018. ISBN: 9780062642783.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Zombies, Coming of age, Adventure, Western, Dystopian fiction. Adventure galore, a Western setting, zombies, some heartbreak and a great heroine - what more could a reader want to while away a few hours?
Willie is a survivor. She has been looking after her younger brothers and sisters after her mother died from the sickness that turned her into a horrifying zombie-like creature called a shake and her father succumbed to alcohol. When her father steals from a shake hunter in the town of Glory where she lives and she is held responsible for the debt, she knows she will have to find him. With the assistance of two hunters she sets off into the desert on a desperate quest to get the money back from her father.
This was a compelling and easy to read story that blended a story set in the old West with a dystopian tale of sickness gone awry. Willie was an engaging character, capable and determined to look after her family as best she could. Her relationship with Micah her brother and the twins was very relatable and the reader can't help but be drawn to Curtis and Ben, the two honest hunters Willie hired to escort across the desert. Short chapters and humorous dialogue helped to lighten the darkness of the shakes.
There was plenty of action as the shakes tried to attack the small party, and some heartbreak and unexpected twists will keep the reader glued to the page until Willie's quest comes to an end. There is a small opening for a sequel which the reader would welcome. Readers who enjoyed the Western setting might like to read the more complex The Devil's West series (Silver on the road, The cold eye, and Red waters rising) by Laura Anne Gilman, while those who like a road trip might enjoy Tess of the road by Rachael Hartman.
Pat Pledger

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