"When your dad is the wolf who killed
Little Red Riding Hood life is no fairytale."
— From the back cover
Dust City is a teen Urban Fantasy
novel written by Robert Paul Weston set in an Alternate Universe
that runs on Grimm's Fairy Tales. It is told from the viewpoint of an anthropomorphic wolf named Henry Whelp, who starts the book in St. Remus
, a juvenile detention center mostly for animalia
. When he was a cub, all the fairies vanished
, and the richest hominids moved into Eden. By the time of the main story, magic has been ineffectively replaced with "leftover miracles", aka fairy dust. The plot is kicked off when Henry's roommate and best friend, the human thief Jack, steals a file from the visiting psychiatrist's office. It's Henry's father's file, and contains clues to a conspiracy
. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that George William Whelp killed Little Red Riding Hood, and in this verse, it ends more or less how it would in Real Life
- with a long stay in prison, and his son disowning him. Of course, Jack picks that day to have his elven girlfriend Siobhan bust him out of juvie, taking the file with him. Then the Doc commits suicide, coincidentally
right after the file was stolen. Henry uses Doc's funeral as an opportunity to escape, aided by Roy Sarlat's
sister, who happened to be visiting her father's grave that day. They part ways, and Henry goes off to Elventown to get the file from Jack. Then the crud really hits the fan.
- Action Girl: Detective White, and Fiona.
- Animal Stereotypes: Wolves are big and scary, foxes are sneaky, ravens are tricky, cats are mean, hedgehogs are prickly, and mules are background characters.
- Anti-Hero: Henry, mainly because he's a pessimist and he's been forced to take tainted fairy dust a few times, which inevitably makes him go violently berserk.
- The Atoner: George William Whelp killed a little girl and her grandmother under the influence of tainted fairydust. As he isn't willfully evil, he is driven to somehow find the source of the tainted fairy dust, and winds up getting Doc, Jack, and his son Henry involved in his delusions.
- Arc Word: Deadwood.
- Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Most of the police is like this.
- Big Badass Wolf: The main character is this, and when cornered he acts like it.
- Bittersweet Ending: Mr. Whelp gets a reduced jail sentence, all the main characters survived, Henry got the girl... life is good. On the other hand, there is now a way to regress animalia into ordinary animals with no antidote. And all the fairies are dead, though ever-optimistic Henry thinks there might be a way to find more, beyond the City limits.
- Can't Get Away With Nuthin': Henry is in juvie because he broke a window.
- Chekhov's Gun: Jerry's markings, and Faelynn's blue rings.
- Corrupt Hick: The Nimbus brothers give the impression of being these.
- Crapsack World: See above. And see below.
- Our Fairies Are Different: They're fluttery Winged Humanoid Reality Warpers. After a fairy dies and is buried, a deadwood tree grows from its corpse.
- Fantastic Drug: Synthetic fairy dust is smuggled and sold like real-life drugs, creates a high, and is addictive.
- Fantastic Racism: Hominids (humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, and nixies) vs. animalia (wolves, ravens, foxes, hedgehogs, cats, pigs, mules and so on).
- Grimmification: The author states in the Notes and Acknowledgements that Dust City was inspired by a textbook called The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar.
- The Hustler: Jerry, a fox with distinctive markings.
- Jerk With a Heart of Gold: Roy really does love his mom and his big sister Fiona. The blue letter he got in a fight over at the beginning of the book is revealed to say: "DER SIS, THANK YOO FOR TECHING ME REEDING. I LUV YOO, ROY". He seems to have made a genuine Heel Face Turn at the end, possibly because of a vision of Henry's dead Fairy Godmother.
- The Magic Went Away: All the fairies disappeared years ago.
- Mega Corp: Nimbus Pharmaceuticals. They don't make everything, but they're the only legitimate vendor of fairy dust in the City.
- Mind Screw: Henry and Roy both have visions of sparkly fluttery Faelynn years after she died. Henry might just have had a flashback from getting beat up, but he also saw patterns of fairy bones on the ground before The Reveal. Roy had never seen a fairy before in his life, but he was in the hospital on a lot of fairy dust after being seriously injured by a high on bad fairy dust Henry. The fairies all died years ago, but somehow deadwood trees grew from their corpses. Are they really gone for good?
- No Ontological Inertia: Skinner turned Jack into gold. After his partners kill him, Jack turns back to normal, apparently unharmed.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The strongest fairy dust is made of ground-up fairy bones.
- The Reveal: See Powered by a Forsaken Child above.
- Urban Fantasy: The setting is best described as Grimm's fairy tales in a modern city.
- Wretched Hive: The titular City, tending towards a Vice City.