Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 Days of Halloween begins: From the Dust Returned

It's that time again! Every day this month, I'll post something Halloween-related. Last year, I did a piece on a classic horror movie every day; for several reasons, I won't be doing that this year. Pieces on classic movies will still be posted, just not every day. Each day, I'll also include a handy link to the entry from last year, for anyone who wants to catch up on, or just re-read, last year's entry. Still with me? Then let's get rollin'!

One year ago today: The Invisible Man (1933)

Today, we're looking at a book that serves as a perfect accompaniment to the Halloween season. Ray Bradbury's From the Dust Returned is a novel that consists of several shorter stories bound together by a common thread. Young Timothy serves as the chronicler of his very large family. A foundling, he is a normal boy living among all manner of supernatural creatures. The family reunites for a rowdy celebration-- a Monster Mash, if you will-- and then disperses once more, promising to meet again a few years hence. However, it soon becomes clear that it's not easy for supernatural beings to survive in the modern world.

Several of the stories were originally printed in magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Weird Tales, and Mademoiselle(one of these things is not like the other...). Two of the stories were also included in an earlier collection of Bradbury's short stories, The October Country. This is where I first encountered them. The story Homecoming, originally published in 1946, was my favorite from that collection, so when I discovered it had been fleshed out into a full book, I immediately sought it out.

The wraparound art on the book's cover is by the wonderful Charles Addams, best known for his creation of the beloved Addams Family. The full book was intended to be a full collaboration between Bardbury and Addams, and would have featured more art by Addams throughout. It's a damn shame that it never came together in quite that form, but at least with the art used on the cover, we get a taste of what might have been.
 (Incidentally, I tried unseccessfully to find an image of the art without all the text. If anyone knows where such a thing can be found, by all means, let me know, and I'll replace this image with the unblemished version.)

From the Dust Returned is not Bradbury's best work, but it's certainly quite good.   I would love to see an animated adaption, and it seems right up Tim Burton's alley. (One can't help wondering which role he would use to shoehorn Johnny Depp into the movie, though.)  The stories are entertaining, and there are some very memorable characters. Some of the stories are better than others, naturally, but as a whole, the book is a whimsical delight. It is worthy of inclusion in an annual Halloween reading list, along with Bradbury's other most Halloween-friendly book, The Halloween Tree. (We'll return to that one later this month.)  
My score:


  1. There is nothing that says creepy like a Queen Anne Victorian with lightening rods, wrought iron on the roof ridges, a tower and a mansard roof. This is my favorite kind of Victorian. Bet the book is good too. :-D

  2. Mmhmm, you oughta check it out!