by Robert Paul Weston
Release Date: September 30, 2010
2010 Puffin Canada
Softcover Edition; 300 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
5 / 5 Stars
The son of the famed Red Riding Hood Killer unlocks the grim secrets of Dust City - and his father's past.
Henry Whelp is a big bad wolf - or will be, someday. The only son of the infamous Red Riding Hood Killer, Henry is worried that he may be following in his father's violent footsteps. He tries to distance himself from his past, and avoids the other teens at St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth, a dentention centre in Dust City - a rundown, gritty metropolis known of its production of fairydust. But when Henry's psychiatrist turns up dead, Henry finds himself on a trail of clues that may lead to proof of his father's innocence - and the horrifying secret behind fairydust.
I had no idea what to expect when I was asked to review this book, but it has quickly become a favourite of mine this year. Henry lives in Dust City and wants nothing to do with dust, the mind-altering substance that is being created by the thaumaturgical companies now that the faeries have all disappeared and the real dust has disappeared with them. But while the original dust gave people great gifts of joy and benevolence, and the gift of healing, the created dust has done something to the city and its people, creating an urgent need that can be felt in the underbelly of the city.
As Henry delves deeper into the truth behind the synthetic dust, he learns some horrifying secrets and the reasons to his dad's imprisonment. These truths and secrets send Henry on a whirlwind path through Dust City and to the special city, Eden, where only those who are human may live.
What I loved about this book is how the fairy tale world was brought into the mainstream and integrated so fully into the plotline. I had to laugh at the scenes with Jack and his beans, the mention of Detective White (meaning Snow White) who can kick some serious butt, and Richard, a character from The Princess and the Frog, turns back into the creature he originally was. The characters were so creative and unique and I couldn't wait to see who else would be brought into the story. The incorporation of Little Red Riding Hood and Grandma and their demise was priceless and I love how this story was woven into the main story. I just can't say enough about how original this was.
The author acknowledges that one of his inspirations for this book was a volume he read based on the Grimms' Fairy Tales, and if you have ever read the original Grimms' stories you know they are definitely not lighthearted fun. That being said, this novel does have its edgier moments and is definitely gritty. Henry has some difficult times ahead of him in his fight to discover the truth and must use all of his courage to fight back. There were definitely some dark moments in this novel, and some younger children may find some of the scenes uncomfortable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was hooked right from the beginning. I have always enjoyed the darker fairytales of the Brothers Grimm (I love Edgar Allan Poe too, so what does that say about my mind, eh?) so I was fascinated by the underlying grittiness that existed in this book. The ending was satisfactory, but was my no means conclusive, which gives me hope that a sequel may be in the works. I really hope so as I would love to read more about Henry, Fiona, and the other wonderful characters in this amazing novel.