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From the Dust Returned    by Ray Bradbury order for
From the Dust Returned
by Ray Bradbury
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Ray Bradbury's other Halloween book, From the Dust Returned, was over fifty years in the making. It began as a spark from a single story in his early twenties, that he would continue to add to throughout his career. The first story, Homecoming, was originally published in Mademoiselle magazine and featured unique artwork (reproduced on the cover of this book) by then relatively unknown artist Charles Addams.

In the style of the author's Martian Chronicles, this book feels very much like a collection of stories linked together through the characters, with specific chapters as the cement that binds them all together. There's a unique haunted house where the dead who meet are of all the same family, with exotic names like Cecy, Uncle Einar, and A Thousand Times Great Grandmére.

Cecy spends her time in the dust dunes in the attic, sending her soul and spirit out into the world to occupy and experience anything and everything, whether it be a drop of rainwater on a rock, a young lover's heart, or a giant eagle flying across the sky. Uncle Einar's thin veiny wings allow him to take flight like a giant bird and travel wherever he pleases. A Thousand Times Great Grandmére, who has existed in her decrepit state for many thousands of years, has experiences to share that make everything else seem short lived and mundane. And many more brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces come to visit from all over the world.

The main character, young Timothy, is an ordinary human boy left as a babe in a basket on the doorstep of this doomed mansion, and raised in this very strange family. But his humanity gives him a different viewpoint, and his job is to record the stories and experiences of these dead family members.

While From the Dust Returned seems to unravel a little sometimes, with some stories going on tangents that never quite return to the coherent plot, there are gems in this book that are unlike any other I have read. Along with The Halloween Tree, it is a perfect book to read - and to read aloud - at Halloween.

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