A Town Called Dust: The Territory 1
by Justin Woolley
Stranded in the desert, the last of mankind is kept safe by a large border fence ... Until the fence falls.
Squid is a young orphan living under the oppressive rule of his uncle in the outskirts of the Territory. Lynn is a headstrong girl with an influential father who has spent her entire life within the walled city of Alice.
When the border fence is breached, the Territory is invaded by the largest horde of undead ghouls seen in two hundred years. Squid is soon conscripted into the Diggers—the armed forces of the Territory. And after Lynn finds herself at odds with the Territory's powerful church, she too escapes to join the Diggers.
Together Squid and Lynn form an unlikely friendship as they march to battle against the ghouls. Their journey will take them further than they ever imagined, leading them closer to discovering secrets about themselves, their world, and a conspiracy that may spell the end of the Territory as they know it.
Squid is a teen who lives and works on his Uncle’s farm located on the outskirts of a Town called Dust. Although Squid is a farm hand he isn’t strong and he’s never been very adept with his hands. Instead, Squid is smart and good with numbers. He has nothing of his own except a key that he treasures that was supposedly left by his mother.
There is an outer fence that has separated mankind from the ghouls for many years. A breach of the fence allows hordes of the undead to slowly stumble their way towards the civilized towns. This brings the defensive troops, Diggers, to Dust. A young Captain spots Squid and senses good qualities in him. Squid is conscripted into service to his surprise and over his Uncle’s objection.
Squid begins training and makes a friend in Max who protects him from being bullied by other recruits. Max is surprisingly good at sword fighting and picks up the military training quickly. But Max hides a major secret.
Lynn is the daughter of a famous Colonel. She has always wanted to be a Digger but women are not allowed in the troops. Instead, she is expected to become a Sister in the ruling religious order. When a tragic event pushes Lynn toward this unwanted fate she escapes and, in disguise, joins the Digger training forces.
Lynn and Squid help each other and eventually face battle together. There is something special about the two that they do not realize, but others do. The territory commander wants to use them but the Church Mother fears a prophesy surrounding them. She seeks to remove them rather than have that prophesy fulfilled.
I don’t read a lot of zombie stories but I’m glad I picked this up. The story focuses primarily on the human characters with intrigue and danger beyond the undead. The world building includes dirigibles, steamcycles and other steam elements that I liked. The characters are well developed and I was engaged by the personalities of Squid and Lynn and the obstacles they faced. There are other secondary characters, including Lynn’s foster brother, Melbourne, who apparently have a part yet to play.
I recommend this to those who like fantasy adventure – even with ghouls. I found the whole package entertaining and look forward to continuing the adventure in book two, A City Called Smoke: The Territory 2.
I purchased this to read before book 2 which I have from NetGalley.