Dust, Arthur Slade


Robert stood in a sparse wheat field of Uncle Alden’s. The sky was cradled by the Cypress Hills on one side, and ahead lay the flat prairies. Storm clouds had gathered in an army in the distance, bolts of lightning displaying their strength. He had never seen clouds like this, as black as the hide on an Angus bull. The air was hot and humid, waiting to be split asunder.

Of the seven books I’ve reviewed thus far, I have realized there has been absolutely no Can-Lit (of the fictional variety), and so now I’ve filled that glaring hole with a fitting choice: a story of the dust-bowl era set on the Saskatchewan plains.

Dust by Arthur Slade was given to me exactly a year ago today by a good friend of mine who thought of me when she read it. It is very me! Dust follows a young Saskatchewan boy in the 1930’s whose town experiences many strange occurrences after the arrival of strange character and disappearance of Robert’s young brother, Matthew. Slade blends the real with the mythical, particularly through Robert’s eyes, a character fascinated by Greek mythos, tales of exploration and adventure like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (much like another recently encountered character, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, of All the Light We Cannot See, two books ago.) As Robert’s town is desperate for the end of the Depression, they become almost enamoured with a strange man claiming to be a Meteorologist with a rain-making machine.

Dust is a really great little read. Slade easily could have expanded the novel with its many themes and characters to be longer, but didn’t. He also takes on darkness while not indulging in melodrama. Like a lot of YA (Young Adult) fiction, it’s really quite honest and unassuming, telling a story to be entertaining rather than inspiring. And it’s with this in mind that I will end this review.

Books Read: 8



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