Book Review: What Blooms From Dust is a surprisingly tender tale, set against an unforgiving landscape

Jeremiah Goodbye, the infamous Coin Flip Killer, is sent to meet his demise in the electric chair. But just as the switch is pulled, a tornado tears through the jail, freeing him. Tossing a coin, he decides to make his way home, to a town called Nowhere, where the twin brother that betrayed him still lives, married to the woman Jeremiah once loved. But Nowhere is a changed place, torn apart by violent dust storms and, as Jeremiah returns for his revenge, the biggest one yet sets its sights on the small town.

It’s easy to read that synopsis and expect this to be some sort of disaster novel, but What Blooms From Dust really isn’t about that at all. The damage caused by the storm is more than physical, an almost supernatural draining of life from the inhabitants of Nowhere, who, it seems, have stretched their resilience to breaking point. It’s harrowing and heartfelt, as James Markert’s beautifully crafted characters give up one by one, while Jeremiah, city reporter Rose, and lost boy Peter fight to keep them alive.

What Blooms From Dust sports some terrific writing, with the dust bowl storm itself making for particularly tense reading. You can almost feel the storm whipping up around you as you read, the dangerous dust hot on your heels. There’s moments of intense emotion too, as Jeremiah’s past is explored, and as curious little Peter and his typewriter bring their own brand of magic to the dying town of Nowhere.

Heavy on the allegory, it’s likely that What Blooms From Dust will improve with successive readings, fleshing out the story more and more as one reads on. But, for a first go around, it reads beautifully, filled with vivid scenes, a touch of the mystic, and a few sweet, heartfelt scenes that will likely leave you choked up. It’s okay, you can blame it on the dust.

James Markert’s What Blooms From Dust is available now through HarperCollins

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my review
View my review policies here

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