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Devils Unto Dust
Cover of Devils Unto Dust
Devils Unto Dust

Keep together. Keep your eyes open. Keep your wits about you.

The desert is unkind in the best of times. And the decade since the Civil War has been anything but the best of times for Daisy Wilcox—call her Willie—and her family. This tense, heart-pounding alternate history about a young woman fighting to survive the unthinkable will keep fans of Westworld and The Walking Dead reading late into the night.

A horrifying sickness has spread across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attack the living, and the surviving towns are only as safe as their perimeter walls are strong. The state is all but quarantined from the rest of the country. Glory, Texas, is a near ghost town. Still, seventeen-year-old Willie has managed to keep her siblings safe, even after the sickness took their mother. But then her good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most merciless shake hunters in town, and Willie is left on the hook for his debt. With two young hunters as guides, Willie sets out across the desert to find her father. And the desert holds more dangers than just shakes.

This riveting debut novel blends True Grit with 28 Days Later for an unforgettable journey.

Keep together. Keep your eyes open. Keep your wits about you.

The desert is unkind in the best of times. And the decade since the Civil War has been anything but the best of times for Daisy Wilcox—call her Willie—and her family. This tense, heart-pounding alternate history about a young woman fighting to survive the unthinkable will keep fans of Westworld and The Walking Dead reading late into the night.

A horrifying sickness has spread across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attack the living, and the surviving towns are only as safe as their perimeter walls are strong. The state is all but quarantined from the rest of the country. Glory, Texas, is a near ghost town. Still, seventeen-year-old Willie has managed to keep her siblings safe, even after the sickness took their mother. But then her good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most merciless shake hunters in town, and Willie is left on the hook for his debt. With two young hunters as guides, Willie sets out across the desert to find her father. And the desert holds more dangers than just shakes.

This riveting debut novel blends True Grit with 28 Days Later for an unforgettable journey.

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  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2018

    Gr 9 Up-This debut novel is set in an alternate history of the American West. People live in fear of "shakes," who become infected after getting sick and then feed on other humans and spread the infection. Sixteen-year-old Daisy "Willie" Wilcox and her family live in the relative safety of Glory, TX, where she cares for her three younger siblings after her mother dies. Glory, a fenced-in town, is ruled by The Judge-a much-feared figure who doesn't care that his people are struggling to pay the monthly fee for his protection. When Willie's drunk father steals money and flees, it becomes her responsibility to get the money back. This sets her off on an adventure with the Garrett brothers, shake hunters who also act as guides to track down her father. Hunters aren't known to be trustworthy, often killing the very people they were paid to protect. Dark and gritty, this dystopian novel doesn't shy away from death or danger. Berquist wonderfully balances the pace of the plot. The main characters are realistic and avoid pitfalls of instant love and abrupt personality changes; even when learning to trust one another, the protagonists stay true to themselves. Full of surprising twists and turns, this is a story of determination and perseverance as well as survival in hard times. VERDICT A great addition to any YA collection.-Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2018
    After her father gambles the family into debt, Willie traverses a desert crawling with the undead to find him.Willie, a white teen, lives with her Pa, younger brother Micah, and 7-year-old twin siblings in Glory, a small town fenced off from the surrounding desert. Her mother passed away from the sickness that turns people into shakes--zombie analogs. Shakes roam the desert, and their disease spreads easily; only hunters and barbed wire keep them in check. One day hunters arrive at Willie's door looking for her gambling Pa--he's stolen $400, and if it's not returned, it's on Willie and her siblings. Willie's full of gumption, so it isn't long before she's decided to go after her Pa. She sets off with a couple of hunters, bluffing that she can pay their full fee. Danger comes at them from all sides--shakes, hunters, heat, and dust storms pummel them along the way. And though Willie thinks she's risking an awful lot venturing into the shake-filled desert, she has no idea of the unthinkable surprises in store. Die-hard fans of the zombie genre will find a new, carefully hewn setting to sink their teeth into and a gritty protagonist to root for. Tropes abound, but an audacious climax and Willie's nerves of steel elevate this suspenseful adventure.A refreshing genre-bender. (Western/horror. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 5, 2018
    In Berquist’s blistering debut, it’s 1877, and strong-willed 17-year-old Daisy “Willie” Wilcox is struggling to support her three younger siblings in the desert town of Glory, Tex. The sickness that killed Willie’s mother has ravaged the country, creating “shakes,” the cannibalistic infected people who roam outside Glory’s protective fences. Willie’s father has run off, and when two men claim that he stole $400 from them, Willie is given a week to find and retrieve him. She reluctantly hires two shake hunters, brothers Benjamin and Curtis Garrett, to accompany her across the unforgiving desert. Willie narrates, taking readers on a harrowing journey across a searing desert filled with ghost towns and the walking dead. Exploring the bonds of loyalty, friendship, and bravery in the face of impossible odds, Berquist cleverly riffs on the work of Cormac McCarthy, blending the excitement and harsh beauty of the frontier with a straight shot of zombie terror. This wild western will delight horror and adventure fans alike. Ages 13–up. Agent: Heather Flaherty, Bent Agency.

  • Mindy McGinnis, author of the award-winning The Female of the Species "A tale of survival as gritty as its desert setting. Stubbornness, strength and survival come head to head with blowing sands and creeping sickness in this feminist tale."
  • Kristin Trevino, Irving Public Library "I could vividly feel the heat, desperation, heartache and hope. Devils Unto Dust is truly a zombie western with heart!"
  • Ryan Graudin, award-winning author of Wolf by Wolf "Much like the undead Willie fights, once this story grabs you, it won't let go. Prepare to be consumed."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Berquist cleverly riffs on the work of Cormac McCarthy, blending the excitement and harsh beauty of the frontier with a straight shot of zombie terror. This wild western will delight horror and adventure fans alike."
  • School Library Journal "Dark and gritty, this ...novel doesn't shy away from death or danger. Berquist wonderfully balances the pace of the plot. ...Full of surprising twists and turns, this is a story of determination and perseverance as well as survival in hard times."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Die-hard fans of the zombie genre will find a new, carefully hewn setting to sink their teeth into and a gritty protagonist to root for. ...an audacious climax and Willie's nerves of steel elevate this suspense adventure. A refreshing genre-bender."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "All the hallmarks of a classic Western are here, from the greasy bad guys to the stoic gunslinger on a quest to a dusty Texas setting...A girl with a gun and a slew of shambling zombies make for quick entertainment, and Willie's desert trek will have readers riveted."
  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "With a setting unlike any other in young adult fiction—where horror meets western—and a fast-paced narrative with strong characters, Berquist's debut, genre-bending novel is sure to entice the zombie-loving crowd as well as adventure seekers."
  • The Horn Book "Berquist strikes an appealing balance between the Western and "infected" genres. ...all sorts of readers should be drawn in to this absorbing hybrid tale in which the people are far more monstrous than the monsters."
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Devils Unto Dust
Devils Unto Dust
Emma Berquist
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