Saturday, March 31, 2018

Review: Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist

Devils Unto DustTitle: Devils Unto Dust 
Author:  Emma Berquist
Publisher: Greenwillow
Publishing Date:  April 10th, 2018
Pages: 496
Genre:  YA Western Horror
Series:  Stand Alone
Source: ARC
Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.

Western meets horror for this riveting story about survival, family, and inner strength. Tense, short chapters propel readers from one action-packed scene to the next, while Willie’s distinctive, introspective voice deepens the emotional stakes with every turn of the page. High concept and character-driven, Emma Berquist’s debut will satisfy fans of The Magnificent Seven, Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and HBO’s Westworld.

This book was a very anticipated read for me. I have recently found a love for YA Westerns and I have a long-lived love for zombies. So a mash-up of both. Yup, that made my day. I was so very very excited to get this book in my hands. The cover is just beautiful and creepy too right? Well I got it and I read it and I LOVED it! It was just what I wanted and just what I needed. A great mix of western and post-apocalyptic and of course ZOMBIES! Oh, and it takes place in home state... Yes! 
So this book takes place in an alternate history in Texas. After the civil war and after a sickness destroys half of mankind and turns them into Shakers... which are zombies. Willie has lost her mother to the virus and her father is pretty much worthless. She is the oldest and takes care of her brothers and sister. It's hard, money is not easy to come by and the taxes they have to pay are outrageous. When Willie's worthless father gets them all in trouble and is nowhere to be seen, Willie needs to find him and bring him back home before her life becomes forfeit. So she enlists the help of two hunters, Ben and Curtis, to go out in the crazy wild west of Shakers to find and drag her father home. Of course, this doesn't go as planned at all! There are unexpected guests, trouble with shakers, trouble with other hunters, lack of provisions, dust storms, and so much more. 

Okay, so I loved this book. It wasn't quite what I expected but I am not sure what I expected. Western and zombie I have not done before but I knew I liked both. One thing is that this is not a horror book. Its super creepy and at times pretty dang gross but I would call it more on the lines of suspenseful than horror. I think many assume horror because of zombies... which like I said creepy and gross are in there but I didn't find too much of me being horrified or scared... which is what I think is horror. I was on the edge of my seat quite a few times though. This story is really hard to put into the category... but it is western, has a journey, and there are zombies. So that sums it up.If you like any of those, really read this book. 

I really loved the main the character, Willie. She was one tough cookie. She was determined and she was full of strength and smarts. She was caring and responsible, selfless. I really admired her. I feel that many times in historical fiction we lack the strong the heroine and the boy has to save the day. Not in this book. First off the only love in this story is family love and friendship. It was a breath of fresh air not to have a heroine falling head over heels for the boy in the story and lose her head for a bit. Willie was only interested in one thing, saving her family. 

The relationship she had with her brothers and sister was remarkable. She was parent and sibling in one.  There is the brother that is just a bit younger than Willie and they are really really close more like siblings and friends. Then there are the twins, one girl, one boy, that are quite a bit younger than Willie. She is more parent to them. 

The friendships in this story, old and new, are quite powerful too. I love a story with great friendship aspects. I feel, especially among YA, friendships come in second to romances. Not in this story. Friendship and family are at the top. And they are so well done. 

The two brother hunters, Ben and Curtis were fun too. Curtis was the sweet one, the more forgiving, the easy-going one. Been, a little aloof, harder, colder, rough around the edges but soft on the inside type. They were a great addition to the story. They had a great relationship too, 

There some more characters too and everyone really added to the dynamics and made it all just so fun and entertaining, and oh the emotions.

 This story was emotional too. Oh, my goodness. There is no shying away from bad stuff happening in this story. Things that just tore my heart open and yes the tears did come. I was sobbing at parts. There were also parts I was laughing out loud and parts that angered me and I wanted to slap someone. In the end, though I could say there were even amounts of all the feels. 

So if you are looking for a read with an emotional and actual journey, zombies, the Texas West, family bondings and strong friendships.... this is definitely the read for you. 

Oh my heart, this book owns it. 

Emma Berquist

Emma Berquist grew up in Austin, TX and currently lives in New Zealand. She likes horror movies and dogs and dislikes brushing her hair and writing bios. Twitter@eeberquist


  1. This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Oh yes I saw another good review of this one!


Imagination Designs