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Dust Hardcover – April 8, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-In a bone-dry summer during the Great Depression, Matthew, seven, disappears from a small prairie community in Saskatchewan. Soon afterward, Abram Harsich comes to town, and before long nearly everyone has fallen under his mesmerizing spell. He claims to be a meteorologist and enlists local men to help him build a "rainmill" that will bring an end to the crippling drought. Only Matthew's brother Robert, 11, who has visions of his dead Uncle Edmund trying to warn him of something, and bookish Uncle Alden remain skeptical and apart. In time, memories of Matthew fade; then other children disappear. Only Robert really remembers his brother and alone he pieces together what has become of the missing children. Suspense builds to a searing and satisfying climax involving malevolent "traders" from the stars. As odd as this may sound, it is a logical conclusion to a story filled with mystery. The plot is strewn with foreshadowing, portents of evil, and foreboding. In Robert's mind, imagery invoking the desert, ancient Egypt, and the Bible abounds, and the spare prose is poetic in its evocations of both the 20th-century setting and the ancient world. Robert is a strong, stalwart character who loves words and stories, and has some understanding of the universe as mysterious. This unusual, well-written story will definitely exercise readers' imaginations. Choose it for science-fiction fans who are ready for something a little different.
Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-12. Set in Saskatchewan during its dust-bowl years, Slade's novel begins eerily as seven-year-old Matthew vanishes on his first walk into town alone. Matthew's parents and the entire community appear to accept and forget his disappearance, but a strange set of circumstances leads his 11-year-old brother, Robert, to conclude that Matthew is still alive. It seems that Matthew's disappearance, as well as the vanishing of several other area children, corresponds with the appearance of Abram Hamsich, a stranger who promises to build a rainmaking machine that will end the terrible drought. Hamsich soon has the whole town mesmerized, except for Robert (and his uncle), who gradually realizes Hamsich's horrific true plans. Calling up Ray Bradbury's 1962 classic Something Wicked This Way Comes and the legend of the immortal soulless wanderer, Slade's haunting story shows the triumph of imperfect hope over manifest evil. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (April 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385730047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385730044
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,028,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arthur Slade was raised in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan (on a ranch) and began writing at an early age. He received an English Honours degree from the University of Saskatchewan, spent several years writing advertising and now writes fiction full time. He is the author of seventeen novels, including the "Northern Frights" series of books, "Dust" (which won the Governor General's award), "Tribes," "Monsterology" and "The Hunchback Assignments" series. He also penned the graphic novel "Modo: Ember's End." He currently lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Customer Reviews

Along the way Arthur Slade keeps the reader spellbound and wondering.
Karleen Bradford
When I started reading this book, I was thinking that it wasn't really "my kind of book," but, I kept reading it because it was so beautifully written.
Denise Rounds
It was a well written story that I would recommend for others to read.
pyrodin322

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Karleen Bradford on April 5, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a lover of fantasy and this book ranks as one of the best with me. It has all the necessary elements--the reluctant but driven hero, the quest which only he can accomplish, the satisfying conclusion. Along the way Arthur Slade keeps the reader spellbound and wondering. I read the book in one day, unable to put it down. After I finished, I found that I couldn't stop thinking about it. The images are still fresh in my mind. I've reread it now and have discovered even more layers to it.
This is a book that you can't wait to finish, but at the same time don't want to finish. The only solution is to start reading it all over again.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a a 6th grade teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had a "hook" from the beginning and kept me wondering until the end. It offers a number of "springboards" for teaching vocabulary and subjects from the Bible and ancient history. I hope to get enough copies to read in literature circles. (...)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob on December 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Until I read the nominations and awards particularly "An American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults" I did not realise that this was a book aimed at young adults and being far from young I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The book gets off to a slow start and slowly develops drawing the reader into the story. I liked the way it was written from a child's point of view with his fascination for words and the way their meanings were interpreted by him. The description of the characters and the locations was very good. Fairly early in the story Robert's (the central characters) brother goes missing and until I read further I thought it strange that no one seemed particularly interested however all becomes clear as the story developed. It is a fairly short story but I would have liked it to be slightly longer so the ending although satisfactory could have had a bit more detail.
In summary a great book suitable for all ages, don't be put off because it is a young adult book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sherilynn Green on September 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I almost didn't finish this book after a little boy was taken away by a stranger. Those types of things upset me, but for some reason I wanted to find out what happened. I'm glad that I kept on reading. Because of the faith of an eleven year old boy things were made right. The author has a great imagination and was able to share it beautifully with the reader. It wasn't what I expected, it evoked a lot of emotion and left me wanting more. It's one of those stories where good triumphs over evil. I'd recommend the book to others, hopefully you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gail Giles on July 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Magical Realisim at its best. Robert's younger brother vanishes on the way to town. A rainmaker soon appears. Things aren't what they seem and people are forgetting what they ought to remember. All but Robert. Arthur Slade imbue's DUST with magic to spare. A wonderful read and not easily forgotten.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bronyaur on March 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Here's my deal... I met Arthur over on the KB boards and after a conversation about advterising, I decided to buy Dust.

I was sucked in from the first chapter and couldn't put my Kindle down. Each chapter builder in a perfect pace - no crazy cliffhangers or anything misleading. The characters were real and story was just awesome.

The length is perfect for this type of story and for $2.99, it's a steal!

Buy it... NOW! :)
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By inkcube on April 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm not really sure how I feel after reading this book. It started off great, with a hint of mystery. The author's writing style flowed by easily and it was packed with great descriptions and similies. However, after 65% (kindle version) of nothing but beautiful language, I got bored and wanted to finish the book just to see what would happen. And then I found out what happened and was unsatisfied. Is that all? Maybe I missed something, but to me a novel is more than great writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 26, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The professional editorial reviews and blurbs for this book make it sound like it's just a spooky and atmospheric sci-fi outing. That doesn't really do the book justice. Just as Canadian author Charles deLint pioneered urban fantasy and Canadian Guy Gavriel Kay perfected vaguely medieval alt-world fantasy, this Canadian has elevated something you might call prairie/rural fantasy. Heat, dust, parched empty prairie - that is the background for this tale. It is in many ways reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's innocent mid-West settings, and it is no accident that this novel has been compared favorably to Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes".

This book would be a great intro for a middle grade reader to magical realism. It has a grounded young hero. It addresses, indirectly, the transition from childhood to adulthood, and what is gained and what is lost along the way. It has some passages of writing that are just beautifully crafted. The plot is helped along with bits of exposition that aid the reader in following what's happening and it has a resolution that makes sense and doesn't leave the young reader at loose ends about what just happened. The book is brief enough that it is not a demanding slog, and there isn't a lot of complicated world building. It seems like it might be a bit of a chancey choice, because some readers will probably get the book and some won't, but this is certainly the kind of book that marks a real step up in quality and sophistication for the right young reader.

Plus, I'm a real sucker for wandering Jack tales, (the soulless wanderer), and this book fits nicely into that tradition. A real find.
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