Book: Dust Bath Revival by Marianne Kirby (Amazon link)
Genre: YA horror/supernatural adventure
Series: Feral Seasons, Book One
USA Release Date: November 21, 2016
Source: Advanced ebook copy from the publisher. No compensation received for this review, and it is my honest opinion.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommended?: Yes, absolutely. It is a gorgeous, haunting southern fairytale about hunger and danger and how little we see even when we try to look at the world.
Content note: Non-explicit violence to animals.
Summary: 16-year-old Henrietta Goodness – Hank to all that know her – has heard all the stories about how the Dust made the dead rise. She’s heard about how life changed.
But that was a long time ago, and Hank is ready for another normal dry and dusty Florida summer. She knows the thunder doesn’t really promise rain. Instead, Hank and her brother will do their chores, run into town as much as they can get away with, and lock up tight and safe in their Aunt Marty’s house once the sun goes down. That’s the plan, at least, until an itinerant tent revival rolls onto their land, with a Reborn – one of the risen dead – traveling caged with them.
The arrival of an unknown cousin connected to the revival starts Hank on the road to solving a mystery that even the government might not want unraveled. There’s nowhere to go when the night isn’t safe and there’s no one to trust when everyone might be part of a conspiracy to keep the Reborn walking.
Dust Bath Revival is a gorgeous, haunting southern fairytale. The story is a slow burn build, and the world opens up for the reader in a slow, sensuous way that meanders and loops, and even the things we see, the things Hank sees as she is shoved out into the world, aren’t what we want them to be, or fear them to be, both and neither at the same time. This is Hank’s story, her creation story, and it is lovely.
Kirby’s writing is gorgeous, and she captures a dark, twisty southern gothic feel. The slow pace of the book feels like a story being told around the campfire, late into the night; there’s an otherworldly quality to the descriptions that holds the reader at a distance and weaves a compelling, complicated world around them.
There was no real sense of fear for me as a reader; the story unspools in a way that feels inevitable and comfortably familiar, a beloved tale that I’ve returned to a hundred times before, though this is my first reading. (It will not be my last.) The ending is less a satisfactory conclusion and more a pause; Dust Bath Revival is clearly the introduction to a much larger world, and though I am eager for the next book, I do wish the end had felt more like a resolution. That’s not to say that the book doesn’t resolve; the story that it sets out to tell is finished, but it so well sets up the next part of the story in such few words at the end that I was left wanting more.
That in itself is a delightful bit of writing. I am left hungry and wanting and frustrated by it, as is Hank. And it is in that hunger, that wanting, that Hank must find her answers, and in her search, exactly what I want more of, too.
Dust Bath Revival is the story of family and need, betrayal and hunger, and it will stick with you long after you finish. It will leave you, always, wanting more.