cover image Vanity in Dust

Vanity in Dust

Cheryl Low. World Weaver, $13.95 trade paper (305p) ISBN 978-0-9987022-1-6

Low’s debut is a valiant attempt to create a new magical world, but a lack of character depth and too many hints at unexplained backstories make the resolution unsatisfying. The rigidly hierarchical society of the Realm is powered by magic dust from carnivorous pixies, which is strictly controlled by the mysterious queen. The noble families of the High spend most of their time absorbing the dust, the lower classes in the Main use it as recreation, and the servants in the Low crave it. The hedonistic Prince Vaun Dray Fen has never known any other way of life, but when dangerous counterfeit dust begins flooding the realm, turning those who ingest it into violent cannibals, he must shake the habits of a lifetime to discover the secrets of his friends and family. The shifts in point of view give some characters importance that they don’t earn, and the absence of the queen from the narrative leaves holes that the other characters do not fill. The missed opportunities outweigh the promising prose. (Aug.)