Friday, April 08, 2011

REVIEW: Dust by Arthur Slade

I'm trying to think of when I first heard of Arthur Slade. It could have been somewhere in the Compuserve Books and Writers Community or maybe one of my writer friends mentioned him... What I really remember is sitting in a workshop at the Surrey International Writers Conference about The Fantastical* and Arthur Slade was the speaker. I knew he was a stand-up guy pretty much right away because he said he was an AC/DC fan. And, guess what? He's a great writer, too. BONUS. For example, I was avoiding work as usual yesterday and happened upon a $.99 Kindle version of Dust (thanks to the lovely and talented Helene Boudreau). This was a book I'd been meaning to read ever since the aforementioned Fantastical Workshop where he read Chapter One. I've thought about that chapter off and on since October and yesterday the opportunity presented itself. You know when you get those opportunities and you hear that angelic "Ahhhhhhh!" along with harp music and the monitor of your laptop is extra bright and you are compelled to click that "Buy now with 1-click" button? Okay. Maybe you don't go through all that. My point is, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I read the whole thing yesterday and when I was finished I couldn't stop thinking about the story. Here's a bit from Arthur's website:
A stranger comes to the small town of Horshoe, promising rain. A child vanishes. And then another and another. But the townspeople are dazzled by magic mirrors and dreams of a green future. The only one who sees through the stranger's mesmerism is Robert, a boy on the cusp of manhood. A boy who must somehow confront the stranger.


This story was brilliantly paced, chock full of elegant description and the setting was faultlessly authentic. I was immediately sucked in and hung on for the entire ride. The characters popped from the pages (or whatever -- I was reading on my Kindle). Mesmerizing, really. Everyone should read it.

This book has won the 2001 Governor General's Award for Children's Literature, the 2001 Saskatchewan Book Award for Children's Literature, and the 2002 Mr. Christie's Book Award. It was also nominated for the 2004 Edgar Award. If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.

Did I mention he writes while walking on a treadmill? This guy is made of awesome.


*The Fantastical wasn't the name of the workshop. I can't for the life of me remember what it really was...