Dustborn

Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her.

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780358244431

  • ISBN-10: 0358244439

  • Pages: 432

  • Price: $17.99

  • Publication Date: 04/20/2021

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

Hear Erin Bowman talk about Dustborn

Erin Bowman
Author

Erin Bowman

 Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch's Garden, and the forthcoming Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories–both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children.
Learn More
  • reviews

    ★ "The 100 meets Rey from Star Wars in this apocalyptic Western....Bowman sets high expectations and meets them in this standalone worthy of all YA shelves. An impeccably crafted dystopian full of beloved tropes and a generous helping of plot twists."–School Library Journal, STARRED review 

     

    "[An] intense, gritty, and propulsive novel....Will keep readers turning the pages."–Kirkus 

     

    "Bowman skillfully portrays the privation and grief that Delta bears, alongside her determination to overcome each obstacle. Absorbing world-building propels this fast-paced adventure, which has crossover appeal and series potential."–Publishers Weekly 

     

    "Delta is a clever and hard heroine, and the cast of characters she forms tentative alliances with along the way are as likable as they are mysterious....a satisfying ending, sure to please readers."–Booklist 

     

    "The post-apocalyptic setting is richly drawn, with harrowing escapes from dust storms across parched land and a general sense of blistering doom...Readers will be left to ponder the sometimes warring forces of hope and truth—right after they find a cool drink of water."–Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 

     

    “With its unforgettable blend of science fiction, dystopia, and Old West, DUSTBORN is one of those stories that stays branded to your heart long after you turn the final page. Prepare to be transported.” -- Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling author of My Plain Jane and the Fallen Isles Trilogy

  • excerpts
    Chapter One

    There’s a storm coming. 

          I can see it out across the plains, a cloud of haze along the horizon that’s bearing down on Dead River like a blanket of shadow. It’s a good four clicks off, maybe more, but dust storms move fast. Already the threadbare flags on the huts flap wildly. 

          I hurry on to the lake. “Big storm to the west,” I call out to Old Fang. The wrinkled trapper is kneeling on the dock beside the dam, checking my traps for frogs or fish, not that we get many of either anymore. Dead River’s been slowly dying for years, the lake drying up and the banks growing wider. I’ve had to extend the dock several times just so the traps can still sit in water. 

          Old Fang searches out the storm. The churning clouds crackle and glint with lightning. “That’s the second one in ten days. We can’t get a break.” 

          It’s not untrue. “Any catch?” 

          He shakes his head. We should have moved in the winter, but now the endless stink of summer is ahead of us. There’s no chance of a pilgrimage for at least four moons, not unless we want to die in the heat, and even the damn frogs have had the sense to move on. Of course, frogs can’t read the stars, and I know we need to have faith. The night skies warn of dangers ahead, of dry land and dust-caked tongues, but if we just sit tight, they also promise a bounty. Flowing rivers. Green land. There’s to be a rebirth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and even before I could see it, there was Indie pointing it out to me in her sisterly way, and before she could read the stars, there was Ma, pointing it out to both of us. Still, it’s hard to keep believing the sky when every sign here, on the land, shows nothing but death and decay. 

          Old Fang squints at the empty buckets I’m carrying, secured to the piece of driftwood I’ve got propped on my shoulders. “You grab the haul,” he grunts. “I’ll rally the pack.” 

          From back near camp, Ma’s voice is audible on the wind. She’s already shouting orders to our people. I also catch the twinkle of my bone chimes, and once those start singing, it means a hell of a storm. Ma’ll need all the help she can get. 

          I give Old Fang a quick nod, and he hobbles off. I pull my scarf over my mouth and nose, looping the loose end over my head to protect some of my hair. Then I scamper down the bank and sprint across the cracked, parched lakebed, the buckets clipping my hips as I run. Used to be I could grab a haul right from the bank. The river might have always been “dead,” flowing only in the spring or after a rare rain, but the lake was a beauty when we first arrived. Now I have to go out a ways to reach water. Not even the dam helps much anymore. 

          The hard earth becomes damp dirt underfoot, then sticky mud, then shallows. I trudge out to my shins and throw down the buckets, listening to the glorious sound of water gurgling into their depths before I heave them back out. The flags along the dam are whipping like mad now, and the hazy cloud to the west is looking more like a wall of dust. 

          “Rot,” I mutter. I can’t run with the buckets full, but I’ve perfected a straight-legged scuttle over the years, and I start back as fast as I can. 

          Once I’m up the bank, I can see the huts clearly. Our pack is scrambling—pulling scrub-woven blankets over the struggling crop, yanking clean clothes from the lines, ushering our four goats and lone mule into the stable, and tying down sheets of scrap metal to shield the animals from the worst of the dust. Flint was supposed to bring fresh meat soon—jackrabbit, he’d promised—but the trader’s not going to make it in this storm. 

          The wind picks up, pushing at my back. Instinctively I angle my head down, wishing for my goggles. They go everywhere with me and are a prime good pair. Real Old World tech, nothing like the cheap, slapdash ones the traders carry that are made of glass and fraying binds. Mine fit true, practically adhering to my face and blocking out all debris, and though the eyepiece can fog like glass, it won’t crack or break like the ones the traders peddle. I’m not sure what sort of magic they’re carved from. The leather head strap’s failing for the first time in all the years I’ve owned my pair, and I started patching it this morning. Should have waited until sundown and repaired them from my bed mat. It’s not worth going anywhere without them during the day. You never know when a storm might hit, and here I am without them, having dropped them on the table, half mended, as I raced for the buckets when the wind kicked up. 

          Squinting through the dust, I can tell most of our pack has retreated to the safety of their huts. Old Fang is barking orders at his granddaughter, Pewter. “Just leave it,” he shouts from the mouth of his home. At barely thirteen, Pewter’s no match for the heavy sheet of scrap metal she’s trying to use to smother the central bonfire. “The dust’ll see to it.” 

          True, but there’s always a chance the wind will knock embers into a hut first, and then the scrub and straw-packed roof would be ablaze in minutes. 

          Pewter’s eyes cut across the camp to me, my buckets. Water would kill the flames instantly, but it’s too precious to waste. I give her a curt nod, telling her I agree with Old Fang. She leaves the scrap metal flopped over the bonfire and runs for her grandfather. I watch her long braid duck past him, and then he’s inside too, lowering the blanket across the hut’s doorway and cinching it tight. 

          “Delta!” Ma is waiting in the mouth of the place we call home, waving her arms feverishly. 

          Water sloshes down my side as the strengthening wind batters my frame and rubble pelts my back. I’m nearly to the hut when a crack of lightning strikes the scrap metal Pewter had been struggling with. Sparks fly. I flinch with shock, lose my footing. My knees hit earth, and I reach out instinctively to stop my fall. That’s all it takes. With the weight of the buckets off kilter, one of them plummets and hits the ground. I lose the other trying to save the first. 

          The greedy soil soaks up the water. 

          “No.” My hands fly over the damp dirt, patting, slapping, as if I can will the water back into the bucket. 

          “Delta!” my mother yells again. 

          I scramble to my feet, grab the empty buckets, and stagger the last few strides to our hut. Ma grabs my arm and hauls me inside. 

          “Right foolish of you,” she scolds. “What good would water do when we can’t even boil it under the hold?” 

          “The lake’s cleanish. Some water sounded better than none.” 

      ...

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780358244431

  • ISBN-10: 0358244439

  • Pages: 432

  • Price: $17.99

  • Publication Date: 04/20/2021

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

Want the latest...

on all things Teen & Young Adult?