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To Dust You Shall Return

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A town ruled by evil. A man ruled by darkness. Only one can survive. Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend with a particular set of skills and a price on his head. When the woman he loves disappears, Curtis follows her trail to the occult town of Harlow, where no one is allowed to leave, and an enigmatic, sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” rules by an autocratic reg A town ruled by evil. A man ruled by darkness. Only one can survive. Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend with a particular set of skills and a price on his head. When the woman he loves disappears, Curtis follows her trail to the occult town of Harlow, where no one is allowed to leave, and an enigmatic, sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” rules by an autocratic regime. Beth Jarvis is a plucky teenager unwrapping the secrets of her hometown―Harlow―and the mysterious ceremony that awaits her on her eighteenth birthday. What Beth doesn’t know is the truth about her sister Kate, who escaped their strange town over a decade ago and has evaded the Mayor and his disciples ever since. What Curtis doesn’t know is that Kate is the woman he’s fallen in love with, and she’s running from a threat far greater than the mobsters who want to kill him. His fate collides with Beth’s as she tries to escape Harlow and the disgusting fate that awaits her, and Curtis finds himself unraveling a mystery that leads to an impossible and terrifying conclusion―that the Mayor of Harlow is more than just a man, and the hardest target he’s ever tried to kill.


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A town ruled by evil. A man ruled by darkness. Only one can survive. Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend with a particular set of skills and a price on his head. When the woman he loves disappears, Curtis follows her trail to the occult town of Harlow, where no one is allowed to leave, and an enigmatic, sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” rules by an autocratic reg A town ruled by evil. A man ruled by darkness. Only one can survive. Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend with a particular set of skills and a price on his head. When the woman he loves disappears, Curtis follows her trail to the occult town of Harlow, where no one is allowed to leave, and an enigmatic, sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” rules by an autocratic regime. Beth Jarvis is a plucky teenager unwrapping the secrets of her hometown―Harlow―and the mysterious ceremony that awaits her on her eighteenth birthday. What Beth doesn’t know is the truth about her sister Kate, who escaped their strange town over a decade ago and has evaded the Mayor and his disciples ever since. What Curtis doesn’t know is that Kate is the woman he’s fallen in love with, and she’s running from a threat far greater than the mobsters who want to kill him. His fate collides with Beth’s as she tries to escape Harlow and the disgusting fate that awaits her, and Curtis finds himself unraveling a mystery that leads to an impossible and terrifying conclusion―that the Mayor of Harlow is more than just a man, and the hardest target he’s ever tried to kill.

30 review for To Dust You Shall Return

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Gibson

    The Short Version: Imagine Marv from Sin City wanders into Gatlin, Nebraska or Derry, Maine to showdown the supernatural terrors within and that’s To Dust You Shall Return. A CRIMINALLY under-hyped horror novel that’s equal parts Stephen King and Frank Miller. The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook version of this novel thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media in exchange for an honest review. Curtis Quinn, a former mob enforcer, is looking for his missing girlfriend. When his search l The Short Version: Imagine Marv from Sin City wanders into Gatlin, Nebraska or Derry, Maine to showdown the supernatural terrors within and that’s To Dust You Shall Return. A CRIMINALLY under-hyped horror novel that’s equal parts Stephen King and Frank Miller. The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook version of this novel thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media in exchange for an honest review. Curtis Quinn, a former mob enforcer, is looking for his missing girlfriend. When his search leads him to the cultish town of Harlow, where residents live in deference to the mysterious Mayor, things go off the rails. The search will generate more questions and a trail of blood as a battle of wills ensues. First off, thank god I have a tendency to judge books by their covers (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to), because I haven’t seen this book in any must read lists or popular upcoming releases lists and that’s a damn shame. The premise here was intriguing and once it gets going I was hooked.....HARD. Pacing is a real strong point, especially early on. The atmosphere the author creates surrounded me like fog, and the scenes in the mysterious town of Harlow kept me churning through this audiobook like a wheat thresher. There are a couple moments later on where it sags ever so slightly, but these are momentary stumbles. The characters were EXCELLENT. Give me an anti hero with a long trail of bodies behind him, give me a mysterious and supernatural villain with wit, and a knack for twisting the knife and I’m all the way there. The Mayor is one of my favorite antagonists recently, I absolutely loved how he was constructed and presented. I must note that starting around the halfway point, this book really goes on overdrive with the graphic violence and viscera. This book is NOT for the squeamish, it will make you squirm and possibly straight up hurl. This was creepy, and gory, and twisty, and I could not get enough....absolutely loved it from beginning to end. Let’s be honest, there were flaws in this novel. The dialogue tags were a little effusive, and in the audiobook a bit jarring at times. The dialogue occasionally was witty and snappy to the point it started to feel unnatural, but only briefly. The explanation for The Mayor’s supernatural powers made some sense, but was implausible on other levels. Even as much as I loved The Mayor, we could have fleshed out his backstory with more specifics to really inform us of his origin and how he got to where he is (would have pushed the novel into an ungainly length I’m sure so I get why it’s not in there). I was able to forgive all these flaws because I was already so enamored with the characters and the story. The audiobook presentation was solid but did have a couple drawbacks also. The narrator was fine, but not superb. There was a lot of room to amp up the emotion and tension, but the narration was more or less steady, relying on the listener to generate that. Also the POV changes between the two protagonists within the chapters frequently and in the audiobook it can be a little jarring (I assume it’s presented more smoothly in the audiobook) Overall a highly enjoyable 4 out of 5. Flawed in places, but in ways I can forgive and not for everyone, but a novel that should be on more people’s radars Component Ratings Idea/Concept: 5 out of 5 Female Protagonist: 4.5 out of 5 Male Protagonist: 5 out of 5 Antagonist: 5 out of 5 Pacing: 4.5 out of 5 Plot: 3.5 out of 5 Dialogue: 3.5 out of 5 Narrator’s Performance: 3 out of 5 Ending 3.5 out of 5

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fred Venturini

    If I didn't think this was a five-star book, I wouldn't have turned it in to the publisher. And I think the cover alone is worth five stars. And if you can't rate your own book five stars what even is the point of being an author? If I didn't think this was a five-star book, I wouldn't have turned it in to the publisher. And I think the cover alone is worth five stars. And if you can't rate your own book five stars what even is the point of being an author?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Sledge

    Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review. Curtis Quinn's world is shook when his future wife is found dead. Her body is found in such a state that it leads him to a mysterious town looking for answers. There he is treated as an outsider, one who isn't welcome. Beth, a young girl from this town dreams of nothing more than leaving and never looking back. This town can keep it's secrets as long as it doesn't keep her, even though her sister Ka Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review. Curtis Quinn's world is shook when his future wife is found dead. Her body is found in such a state that it leads him to a mysterious town looking for answers. There he is treated as an outsider, one who isn't welcome. Beth, a young girl from this town dreams of nothing more than leaving and never looking back. This town can keep it's secrets as long as it doesn't keep her, even though her sister Kate disappeared years ago only to be brought back in a body bag. These two characters paths are forced together when it is revealed that Kate was Quinn's love who had gone by another name. Will Beth be able to leave the town alive? And what horrors await Quinn as he digs up the towns ancient secrets? This book was twisted and gory, perfect for horror lovers. The story followed an amazing pace that kept you hooked and coming back for more. The gore was just enough to make you cringe but not turn you off from the story. Both Beth's and Quinn's points of view were critical to make this story what it becomes. Their experiences and losses really shape the plot into something unique. My one complaint about this audiobook was the way the narrator read the story. There was something so off-putting about his accent and the pace he read the story in. It took you out of the magic at times, but this story was such top shelf material that you weren't lost for long. Overall, I recommend this for horror fans 18+ as the gore is extreme, but masterfully done. I will definitely be looking for this author's work in the future. Don't let this great story pass you by and grab a copy today!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: Violent and disturbing, To Dust You Shall Return is a relentless but compelling mystery about a small town full of big secrets. She thought of Kate, and finally understood her sister’s misery outside of Harlow. All the Jarvis girls had done was trade one brand of fear for another, and the fear’s beating heart was the town itself, and nothing would ever end, not ever, until a stake was driven through it. Kate had understood that, and the stake she sharpened was the janitor. Unfor The nitty-gritty: Violent and disturbing, To Dust You Shall Return is a relentless but compelling mystery about a small town full of big secrets. She thought of Kate, and finally understood her sister’s misery outside of Harlow. All the Jarvis girls had done was trade one brand of fear for another, and the fear’s beating heart was the town itself, and nothing would ever end, not ever, until a stake was driven through it. Kate had understood that, and the stake she sharpened was the janitor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sharp enough.  I thought I knew what to expect from To Dust You Shall Return, after loving Venturini’s The Heart Does Not Grow Back several years ago, but people, I was not prepared, not at all. This story is Violent with a capital V and rivals just about anything I’ve ever read before. And yes, there is a speculative element that comes into play late in the story, but humans are responsible for most of the horrific acts, which makes it even harder to stomach at times. The story revolves around an ex-mobster who seeks revenge for the brutal murder of the woman he loves, and the mysterious town where she used to live, a town whose residents are not allowed to leave. For those who like trigger warnings, I’m adding some at the end of this post, hidden because of spoilers. Curtis Quinn is a retired Chicago mobster who pissed off his former boss and now he’s got a price on his head. He’s been trying to lay low, but all that changes when the woman he’s fallen in love with disappears. When Kristina’s body is found, horribly mutilated except for her face, Quinn knows he must try to solve the mystery of her murder. What he doesn’t realize is that by poking around in her past, he’s about to unleash hell on earth in the form of a mysterious figure called the Mayor. He soon uncovers the fact that Krstina had escaped from the small mining town of Harlow, Illinois, a town shrouded in secrets, where the residents are prisoners and the Mayor and his disciples rule with an iron fist. Quinn decides to infiltrate Harlow disguised as a school janitor, hoping to learn the truth about Kristina’s murder and mete out his particular kind of justice, but things go spectacularly sideways when his ruse is discovered. At the same time, Beth Jarvis is fast approaching her eighteenth birthday, when she’ll be called to the annual Harvest Ceremony to finally learn all the secrets of Harlow. But Beth only wants one thing: to escape Harlow just like her sister Kate did. On the eve of Harvest, Beth and her best friend Trent decide to run, despite the dangers and the punishment that awaits them if they’re caught. When Quinn and Beth cross paths and realize they have something in common, they decide to help each other, even though the chances of either of them surviving are slim. I love a good “small, creepy town with secrets” story, and Harlow fits that trope perfectly. Little by little, the author peels back the layers and exposes the rot and darkness at the heart of the town, and let me tell you, the tension was palpable. This was one of those breathless reads for me, where you’re almost afraid to turn the page, but nothing on earth can stop you. Despite the (seemingly) non stop violence, this is actually a really good story, and the mystery of who the Mayor is and what exactly is going on in Harlow is what kept me reading. I’m fascinated with stories about cults and why anyone would join one or follow a leader who is clearly deranged and dangerous, and Venturini takes the idea of a small town cult to new levels of horror. In this case, the Mayor and his High Servants are so powerful that escape is nearly impossible, which is why most citizens keep their heads down and do what they’re told.  The story is told from two main points of view: Quinn and Beth. I loved the way we get to see both sides of what’s going on: from Quinn, we see the shocking details from an outsider’s perspective, and we also get to see how far the Mayor’s reach extends, even past the borders of Harlow. And as an insider and a resident of Harlow—and someone who has grown up there—Beth’s perspective is one of survival, but also a weird combination of anger and acceptance. Beth has lost both her mother and sister, and her relationship with her father is strained, but her frustration with not knowing what happened to Kate and her mother drives all her actions and decisions, and she becomes a force to be reckoned with. Quinn is a fantastic character as well, a man who has seen plenty of violence but isn't quite prepared for the horrors of Harlow. The grim parts of his past are tempered by his relationship with Kristina and his attempts to live a normal life with her, but for a man like Curtis Quinn, true happiness is never going to be an option, so when Kristina is murdered, he’s prepared to die in order to learn the truth. Kristina is dead from the beginning, but her presence permeates the story anyway in the form of Beth’s and Quinn’s memories of her, as well as a secret journal that turns up later in the story. I also loved the myth of the Griffin, a tale told to the children of Harlow about a powerful creature who will someday return to destroy the Mayor and save the town, and I loved the way Kristina and Quinn are tangled up in this myth and how it ultimately plays out. I thought many of the side characters were well fleshed out as well, especially Beth’s father Marcus Jarvis, a man tormented by his past actions who does not want to lose his younger daughter, yet he knows it’s inevitable. Marcus’s story was probably the most heartbreaking for me, even more so than Quinn’s. Venturini waits until almost the end of his tale to reveal the shocking source of the Mayor’s power, but what is even more interesting is how the characters deal with that knowledge and the decisions they make at the end. I was especially surprised by Quinn’s actions, and in fact I found him overall to be a very unpredictable character, which is one reason I loved this story so much. This is a must read for horror fans who can handle extreme and relentless graphic violence, but who also appreciate a well written, well told tale full of complex characters. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. [spoiler]Trigger warnings: murder, torture, extreme violence, cannibalism, filicide, (off page) rape[/spoiler]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend and the woman he loves has disappeared. He follows her trail to the town of Harlow. He quickly learns it is under control of a tyrant, and what transpires is an unsettling graphic story of control, fear, and vengeance. Dynamic characters, crazy small town packed full of big secrets, graphic descriptions that make you feel as if you’re right there experiencing the horror, and so much more - To put it simply, this book was great. I’ve debated what to put in the Curtis Quinn is a Chicago mob legend and the woman he loves has disappeared. He follows her trail to the town of Harlow. He quickly learns it is under control of a tyrant, and what transpires is an unsettling graphic story of control, fear, and vengeance. Dynamic characters, crazy small town packed full of big secrets, graphic descriptions that make you feel as if you’re right there experiencing the horror, and so much more - To put it simply, this book was great. I’ve debated what to put in the review, and at the risk of saying too much and spoiling the fun, I want to urge you to pick it up - because this is a book that needs to be experienced going into it somewhat blind. Thank you Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the audio ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. #ToDustYouShallReturn #NetGalley

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Robbins

    This book sucked me in really quickly. I was intrigued by the dichotomy of the former mobster and the oppressed teenage girl in a strange little town. Crazy events ensued while each of them grew and found themselves. There was tons of action and insanity. I listened to the audiobook and I could barely get myself to stop listening to do anything, including spend time with my family. I just wanted to see what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed the narrator.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    The narration wasn't that great. He could have emoted and switched up the characters' voice inflections just a little. The story was pretty good though, some things bothered me, It was way too long. Read the synopsis for a good big picture of what it's about. It is full of Antihero type characters. I also described it as a cross between horror in the vein of children of the corn, a crime thriller with an antihero who tries to atone, and the hill have eyes. It was giving me all those vibes. But the The narration wasn't that great. He could have emoted and switched up the characters' voice inflections just a little. The story was pretty good though, some things bothered me, It was way too long. Read the synopsis for a good big picture of what it's about. It is full of Antihero type characters. I also described it as a cross between horror in the vein of children of the corn, a crime thriller with an antihero who tries to atone, and the hill have eyes. It was giving me all those vibes. But the story did go on way too long and that is a big drawback. And with this narrator, it can start to feel heavy and like you want to rush it along. There was a historical note that bothered me. Arbeit Macht Frei is mentioned in the book in a context about workers. The narrator described hearing that phrase in a book and that it was used in Soviet Gulags. It is a German phrase translating to work will set you free and it was used at the entrance of concentration camps run by Nazi Germany. I know it's nit-picky but I can't believe an author or the editors would not come across this in the final edit or whatever. But there are scary, murderous, superhuman town folk and a demon politician that will keep you entertained. Another drawback though is the big explanation for something huge in the book, And some mythology is being built up about plot things as well. The mythology doesn't make sense and never comes to anything and when I mentioned the big explanation, I like the idea but for some reason, it didn't fit well with everything else. All in all, id recommend it but there are drawbacks and it's way too long.

  8. 4 out of 5

    bee

    To Dust You Shall Return by Fred Venturini is absorbing. The book centers around the town of Harlow and the secrets it possesses. The town is overseen by a mysterious man, only known as "The Mayor," no one is allowed to leave, if you do, you're hunted down and subjected to The Mayor's sadistic brand of torture. When Curtis Quinn (notorious Mobster) encounters Beth Jarvis (a local teen) on his hunt for his missing girlfriend, the two are sent on a path to uncover the truth. It turns out that Curt To Dust You Shall Return by Fred Venturini is absorbing. The book centers around the town of Harlow and the secrets it possesses. The town is overseen by a mysterious man, only known as "The Mayor," no one is allowed to leave, if you do, you're hunted down and subjected to The Mayor's sadistic brand of torture. When Curtis Quinn (notorious Mobster) encounters Beth Jarvis (a local teen) on his hunt for his missing girlfriend, the two are sent on a path to uncover the truth. It turns out that Curtis's lover and girlfriend Kate is also Beth's sister. The two decide to figure out exactly who and what Kate is running from. This story was, as Grey's Anatomy puts it, "dark and twisty." The characters fall in line with your typical anti-heroes, which I found extremely refreshing. Even Beth, who is the most morally upright of the bunch, still has her moments where she makes decisions that are not "good." The Mayor was such a creepy antagonist that I couldn't help but jump at every noise in my house for at least a day after I finished listening to this book. Even though his character could have used a little more explanation, what readers get is enough to creep them out. The narrator did an excellent job of conveying the story, but I wish there had been just a tad more variance in his vocals for the different characters. Overall, it was a really well-written book that will probably haunt me for years to come. This book is not for the faint of heart. I, myself, (self-proclaimed Halloween-lover and horror movie fanatic) almost was not able to finish listening. Some trigger warnings to be aware of are gore, bodily horror, death, torture, blood, suicide, suicidal ideation, and more. Overall rating: 3/5 To Dust You Shall Return is available for purchase now. Be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelf and see where it's available for purchase. Also, be sure to check out Fred Venturini’s website! I was lucky enough to be able to listen to this Advanced Reader's Copy through my partnership with NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the audiobook version of this book in exchange for my honest review. I completely missed that horror was listed in the genre description for this book, and I am not a good target audience for the genre. I was just under halfway through the book when I realized what I was listening to and there were portions of this book that disgusted me completely and made me want to stop reading, but I stuck with it in order to give my review. I liked the narrato Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the audiobook version of this book in exchange for my honest review. I completely missed that horror was listed in the genre description for this book, and I am not a good target audience for the genre. I was just under halfway through the book when I realized what I was listening to and there were portions of this book that disgusted me completely and made me want to stop reading, but I stuck with it in order to give my review. I liked the narrator and felt he did a very good job. The book started out strong and I really liked Curtis Quinn's character. I am a big fan of Jack Reacher and he felt very much like a Jack Reacher character to me - a man that will do what is right even if it is the hard thing to do. This is very much who Curtis Quinn is, even if he battles many of his own demons in the process. He meets up with strong oppositions in his quest for the truth about his wife and he continues onward at all costs to find answers and do the right thing. Beth Jarvis is young in age, but an intelligent young woman unafraid to stand up and fight for what is right, no matter the pain or road blocks.. I liked the strength of character in both Curtis and Beth. Neither were perfect, and therefore they were believable. While the storyline of this book was not my favorite, it did keep my interest, I was shocked when I learned the who the bad guy was, and the solution to beating the bad guy pleasantly surprised me. I could tell you so much more, but I'm not a fan of spoilers and I would like all who are very interested in the horror genre to read this one and be surprised the same way I was.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (spooky.octopus.reads) Turner

    No one is allowed to leave Harlow. To leave means you will be chased down, dragged back to Harlow, and subject to cruel punishments from "the Mayor" and his disciples. The Mayor rules with a sinister, terrifying hand, and those that cross him are lucky to come away with their lives. When Curtis Quinn, a Chicago mob affiliate, loses the woman he loves, his quest to find her leads him straight to Harlow. Once in Harlow, his path crosses with Beth Jarvis, a teenager trying to uncover the secrets of No one is allowed to leave Harlow. To leave means you will be chased down, dragged back to Harlow, and subject to cruel punishments from "the Mayor" and his disciples. The Mayor rules with a sinister, terrifying hand, and those that cross him are lucky to come away with their lives. When Curtis Quinn, a Chicago mob affiliate, loses the woman he loves, his quest to find her leads him straight to Harlow. Once in Harlow, his path crosses with Beth Jarvis, a teenager trying to uncover the secrets of her hometown and her sister, Kate's successful escape from Harlow years ago. Curtis discovers that the woman he loves is none other than Kate, and that she is running from something far more evil than he expected. Guys, I went into this book essentially knowing nothing and not sure what to expect...and then I TORE through this one!!! The cult-like atmosphere of Harlow enveloped me and I was rooting for Curtis and Beth to take the Mayor down and break the other townspeople of their devotion to him. The character development in TDYSR is fantastic. I hated the Mayor, but I LOVEDDD him as a character- such a perfectly fleshed out villain!!! I love a book with well placed gore, and this one certainly delivered in that aspect as well. Gross, bloody, stabby-- all the right things for a horror/thriller read. The story itself is full of darkness and twists, and the interjection of a snarky remark or something that induces a little chuckle kept it super enjoyable and unique. Grab this one for your summer reading list, and thank me later! **Thank you Turner Publishing for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.**

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    [5 Stars] Wow, I didn't really have any expectations for this one but it blew me away. The narrator, Pete Cross, did a great job. I really liked how he didn't make all the female voices sound whiny or too high-pitched, which is a pet peeve of mine. But he did still have good voice inflection, so I never felt lost on who was speaking. In terms of the plot, the author did a great job. I thought this was excellently paced, the tension was palpable, I was thoroughly engrossed the entire time, loved t [5 Stars] Wow, I didn't really have any expectations for this one but it blew me away. The narrator, Pete Cross, did a great job. I really liked how he didn't make all the female voices sound whiny or too high-pitched, which is a pet peeve of mine. But he did still have good voice inflection, so I never felt lost on who was speaking. In terms of the plot, the author did a great job. I thought this was excellently paced, the tension was palpable, I was thoroughly engrossed the entire time, loved the atmosphere, and I really believed in the stakes. Also, the level of gore in this is astronomical (please check TW for basically everything, this has a lot of terrifying stuff in it). I also liked how no character was really 'good'. Beth was the closest we got to a morally upright character, but even she did bad things. This factor really added a lot to the tone and intrigue of the book. The only thing I didn't particularly care for was the explanation of the Mayor's powers. His character definitely needed some more fleshing out to make everything feel a bit more plausible. As it stands, the final reveal on his powers and whatnot was flimsy enough to detract from my enjoyment. But despite that, this is still a solid, no pulled punches horror that's definitely not for the faint of heart. I'd recommend it! TW: rape, loss of a baby, loss of a loved one, cannibalism, auto-cannibalism, talk of pedophilia, torture, murder, gore, violence, suicide, suicide ideation, and more

  12. 4 out of 5

    Benoit Lelièvre

    I don't know whether I liked this novel or not. I'm just too shocked about how crazy it was. I'm not talking about good crazy or bad crazy. I'm talking about the crazy kind of crazy. The one that makes you wonder what the hell you're actually reading and if you're really reading what you're reading or you're hallucinating it. I swear to God. This was like... reading a Road House/Footloose fan fiction crossover if it were written by Axl Rose and Stephen King's cocaine-addled brains circa 1991. The I don't know whether I liked this novel or not. I'm just too shocked about how crazy it was. I'm not talking about good crazy or bad crazy. I'm talking about the crazy kind of crazy. The one that makes you wonder what the hell you're actually reading and if you're really reading what you're reading or you're hallucinating it. I swear to God. This was like... reading a Road House/Footloose fan fiction crossover if it were written by Axl Rose and Stephen King's cocaine-addled brains circa 1991. There's a shadowy mob enforcer (which is the most boring character in any novel), a weird rural cult with unclear rules, freakin' CANNIBALS, a body count higher than some medieval wars had, super powers and all of it is played with a straight face. No tongue-in-cheek stuff. No let's-get-crazy-together wink wink tone. Here're the most vile and violent stuff you've ever imaginated. Two pages after some cricial exposition. You just get off the highway into the boonies. Literally and metaphorically. I don't think this is a bad novel at all. It's narratively competent, the characters are somewhat archetypal but they get the job done, it's a little long-ish but it doesn't quite overstay its welcome. No, To Dust You Shall Return lives and dies by its tone. To me it has a huge tone problem. It's just out of control. But someone else might find their Great Gatsby in it. I thought it felt a little too "hair metal video" for my own tastes, but I applaud the sheer balls it took to write it. Even more to publish it. I was not exactly moved or anything, but I was entertained as hell.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Benavidez

    To Dust You Shall Remain centers on a town ruled over by their past. Harlow is a town where no one is allowed to leave, where the town is ruled over by a sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” and his dedicated followers. This is a very interesting book. Following two leads – Curtis Quinn, a Chicago mob legend on a mission for revenge and Beth Jarvis, a teenage resident of Harlow with her own penchant for rebellion— the author manages to match his writing style to whichever character he’s To Dust You Shall Remain centers on a town ruled over by their past. Harlow is a town where no one is allowed to leave, where the town is ruled over by a sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” and his dedicated followers. This is a very interesting book. Following two leads – Curtis Quinn, a Chicago mob legend on a mission for revenge and Beth Jarvis, a teenage resident of Harlow with her own penchant for rebellion— the author manages to match his writing style to whichever character he’s currently in the shoes of. Curtis Quinn is a man with a past who had found love and had it taken from it. As such, Venturini writes him with a pulpy action feel. He hits all the action cliches and then manages to subvert them in a way that feels natural to the character that he has created. Beth Jarvis is a teen who is in her own rebellion from the family and town, and it is with her that we see the author’s shift into something that’s a bit more thriller with a horror always lurking in the shadows. It’s through both of these characters that the town Harlow, and its many residents come to life. Each fill in the blanks for the reader, creating a steady mix of action and horror, keeping the story fun and the mystery alive. There's not much i can say without spoiling the books and its subversions. Equal parts fun pulp and taut thriller, this books reads fast while keeping you from ever being bored.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me with an early audiobook copy of this! Fred Venturini's "To Dust You Shall Return" in an audiobook was engaging and a delight to listen to. The narrator, Pete Cross, does a really good job setting the tone with his voice. I kind of wished that the audiobook had more sound effects, especially for the more graphic parts of the book because I think that would have elevated the horror aspects of the narrative. That said, Cross does a really Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me with an early audiobook copy of this! Fred Venturini's "To Dust You Shall Return" in an audiobook was engaging and a delight to listen to. The narrator, Pete Cross, does a really good job setting the tone with his voice. I kind of wished that the audiobook had more sound effects, especially for the more graphic parts of the book because I think that would have elevated the horror aspects of the narrative. That said, Cross does a really good job selling the story and engaging the listener. Story-wise the narrative felt very uneven for me. I felt that other than the gruesome and at times, graphic, depictions of violence and horror, the novel itself didn't come across as horror or even scary to me. I love horror literature and just enjoy horror as a genre so I was quite disappointed that for the most part, the horror in this novel came from gross depictions rather than horrific events or characters. The "big bad guy" and the Harlow I think could have been scarier in my opinion but I did find the characters to be engaging and interesting to follow. Aside from the uneven depictions of physical horror, this is a quick listen for something spooky during the summer evenings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me with an early audiobook copy of this! Fred Venturini's "To Dust You Shall Return" in an audiobook was engaging and a delight to listen to. The narrator, Pete Cross, does a really good job setting the tone with his voice. I kind of wished that the audiobook had more sound effects, especially for the more graphic parts of the book because I think that would have elevated the horror aspects of the narrative. That said, Cross does a really Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for providing me with an early audiobook copy of this! Fred Venturini's "To Dust You Shall Return" in an audiobook was engaging and a delight to listen to. The narrator, Pete Cross, does a really good job setting the tone with his voice. I kind of wished that the audiobook had more sound effects, especially for the more graphic parts of the book because I think that would have elevated the horror aspects of the narrative. That said, Cross does a really good job selling the story and engaging the listener. Story-wise the narrative felt very uneven for me. I felt that other than the gruesome and at times, graphic, depictions of violence and horror, the novel itself didn't come across as horror or even scary to me. I love horror literature and just enjoy horror as a genre so I was quite disappointed that for the most part, the horror in this novel came from gross depictions rather than horrific events or characters. The "big bad guy" and the Harlow I think could have been scarier in my opinion but I did find the characters to be engaging and interesting to follow. Aside from the uneven depictions of physical horror, this is a quick listen for something spooky during the summer evenings.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bravo

    In many ways, this book reads more like fantasy than traditional horror (e.g., the idea of an isolated town ruled by an unknown and all-powerful ruler, names like The Mayor and High Servants, etc). Because of that, I found myself impatiently waiting for more world-building that never really came. I was able to continue enjoying the story by leaning in to the idea that perhaps the story was *supposed* to feel disorienting and frustratingly mysterious. I imagine this is how the people of Harlow fe In many ways, this book reads more like fantasy than traditional horror (e.g., the idea of an isolated town ruled by an unknown and all-powerful ruler, names like The Mayor and High Servants, etc). Because of that, I found myself impatiently waiting for more world-building that never really came. I was able to continue enjoying the story by leaning in to the idea that perhaps the story was *supposed* to feel disorienting and frustratingly mysterious. I imagine this is how the people of Harlow felt throughout their lives—forever forced to live in uncertainty and surrealism. I did find it difficult to truly connect to any of the characters or have a strong emotional investment in their fates (with the exception of Marcus, who I would have loved to spend more time with). I felt as if they were there to advance the plot, rather than the other way around. However, I appreciated that this story kept me guessing right up until the very end, as opposed to the many horror novels that feel contrived and predictable. If you’re not one to shy away from some beautifully (but heartbreakingly) executed gore, slow burns, and endings that aren’t wrapped up nicely in a bow, I’d recommend giving this book a try.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jewels Emily

    I received an e arc from Netgalley, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This is not the kind of book to listen to while you're doing something else. I found myself stopping what I was doing to fully listen to the audiobook. From chapter one I was completely sucked into this world, and the secrets of the small town of Harlow. The writing style is amazing. The story itself is so dark and gritty but it never feels heavy. Fred Venturini keeps things light with just the right amount of humor and I received an e arc from Netgalley, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This is not the kind of book to listen to while you're doing something else. I found myself stopping what I was doing to fully listen to the audiobook. From chapter one I was completely sucked into this world, and the secrets of the small town of Harlow. The writing style is amazing. The story itself is so dark and gritty but it never feels heavy. Fred Venturini keeps things light with just the right amount of humor and sarcasm from the characters. Speaking of characters, everyone was fully developed and unique in their own way. Curtis Quinn is completely unlike any other "hero" I've ever read before, he felt human. He was more than just the person who's supposed to save the town of Harlow, and I admired and appreciated that so much. To Dust You Shall Return also has a lot of dark elements, like descriptive gore, and cannibalism which are two things I look for in books, so I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I loved this book, it has become one of my new favorites, and I will most definitely be buying it in print as soon as I get the chance!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dame Samara

    Content Warning for Graphic Depictions of Canabilisim, Torture, Violence, and Suicide. Along with depictions of sexual assault. (This list is by no means inclusive since I hadn't thought I'd need to make one going into this) I made it through the first half of this book relatively fine, like a train wreck. As long as I was observing and not processing it, I was fine. But when I stopped reading and stepped back, the thought of returning to Harlow held no interest to me. If anything, the idea disgu Content Warning for Graphic Depictions of Canabilisim, Torture, Violence, and Suicide. Along with depictions of sexual assault. (This list is by no means inclusive since I hadn't thought I'd need to make one going into this) I made it through the first half of this book relatively fine, like a train wreck. As long as I was observing and not processing it, I was fine. But when I stopped reading and stepped back, the thought of returning to Harlow held no interest to me. If anything, the idea disgusted me. This book is a perfect example of the Hero's Journey, meaning instead of getting the resolution that feels appropriate after roughly 6 hours. We are just finding the abyss, and the next 6 hours are more brutal than the first 6. Except their character growth doesn't happen with Quinn, and not enough time is spent with Beth to make it worth it. And Quinn sure as hell hadn't done the work to deserve "the Goddess's Gift" at the end. While this book is listed as a horror, it is honestly where I found it lacking the most. It is a horror in the same way that slasher movies are a horror. The horror aspect of this almost entirely sits in the grotesque use of violence.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    When I requested this book, I knew it was listed as horror which is typically not up my alley so I am not the best target for this book. Admittedly, there were several parts that really grossed me out, disturbed me, and scared the shit out of me. That being said, horror is still not my genre but I could get past the gross parts to find parts of this to enjoy. I thought the narration was pretty well done, though it could have used a bit more inflection and emotion. Both of the main characters, Cu When I requested this book, I knew it was listed as horror which is typically not up my alley so I am not the best target for this book. Admittedly, there were several parts that really grossed me out, disturbed me, and scared the shit out of me. That being said, horror is still not my genre but I could get past the gross parts to find parts of this to enjoy. I thought the narration was pretty well done, though it could have used a bit more inflection and emotion. Both of the main characters, Curtis Quinn & Beth Jarvis were very compelling and interesting characters with strong determination and will to live. Neither of them were perfect characters which made their actions much more believable in the midst of a very unbelievable plot. The storyline was incredibly unique and kept my interest, but I certainly could have done without the gruesome scenes. The ending was surprising and weird and I didn't love it but didn't hate it either. Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the audiobook version of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Talisha Chambliss Roider

    Being a horror fan from southern Illinois where the novel is set, this one was a natural pick to devour. I've read many of Venturini's other works, and man, this is his best stuff, reminiscent of the earlier short stories that shocked, terrified, and excited me. Yes, it's violent and disturbing and grotesque, but beneath that is a look at the intricacies of small-town life, blind devotion, and what people will do for those whom they love. I found myself both loving and loathing the antihero, Cur Being a horror fan from southern Illinois where the novel is set, this one was a natural pick to devour. I've read many of Venturini's other works, and man, this is his best stuff, reminiscent of the earlier short stories that shocked, terrified, and excited me. Yes, it's violent and disturbing and grotesque, but beneath that is a look at the intricacies of small-town life, blind devotion, and what people will do for those whom they love. I found myself both loving and loathing the antihero, Curtis Quinn, and Beth Jarvis was the perfect complement to him, filling in all that he was lacking. The most captivating character for me, however, was the Mayor, and if I had any complaint, it would only be that I wanted more of his story, as dark as it would undoubtedly be. I can only hope that maybe we'll see a prequel (please)? I won't soon forget this story, and I'll likely be chewing on it for some time, maybe even in my nightmares.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Noble

    I received a free audiobook for n honest review. I am very impressed with this book! I think the narrator did an awesome job with voice inflection for the various characters. It really helped define who was speaking when if you happened to miss that part. Plus, it added to the enjoyment of the experience. The author keeps you guessing and in suspense throughout the whole book. I couldn't wait to get to the next part right up until the end! It's nice to see both strong female and male characters, I received a free audiobook for n honest review. I am very impressed with this book! I think the narrator did an awesome job with voice inflection for the various characters. It really helped define who was speaking when if you happened to miss that part. Plus, it added to the enjoyment of the experience. The author keeps you guessing and in suspense throughout the whole book. I couldn't wait to get to the next part right up until the end! It's nice to see both strong female and male characters, especially when they work in tandem. This book is perfect for people who love mysteries, murder stories, or horror. It's so far, the best book I've read/listened to this year! It would be an excellent choice for reading groups too, because there would be tons of discussion material.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer *Last Book on the Left*

    This is an awesome cover!! It will definitely be a cover buy for a lot of people. Luckily the story holds up to the amazing artwork.   Curtis is a criminal who has a price on his head. When his girlfriend disappears he follows her trail to Harlow. An occult town that no one can leave. Ruled over by “The Mayor” a sinister entity shrouded in mystery. Beth is a teenager from Harlow. As she unravels its secrets she will learn more about the ceremony that awaits her on her eighteenth birthday and what t This is an awesome cover!! It will definitely be a cover buy for a lot of people. Luckily the story holds up to the amazing artwork.   Curtis is a criminal who has a price on his head. When his girlfriend disappears he follows her trail to Harlow. An occult town that no one can leave. Ruled over by “The Mayor” a sinister entity shrouded in mystery. Beth is a teenager from Harlow. As she unravels its secrets she will learn more about the ceremony that awaits her on her eighteenth birthday and what truly happened to her sister after she escaped Harlow. Kate is Beth’s sister and Curtis’ love, she has been on the run from Harlow and its Mayor for years. This group will need to fight to escape from Harlow again and the horrible things that happen there.   I have been lucky with the last few ARC I have reviewed. They have all been really good! This one was no exception. It was a very well written story of a former mobster looking for his missing love and finding a creepy, mysterious town that is hiding a disgusting secret. I just love these types of stories. The antagonist was so well done and made me wish I could read more about him.   Another book I highly recommend picking up when it is released on June 22nd.   I received an Arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Thanks to NetGalley and the Dreamscape Media for an advanced readers audio book in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars Told through two characters, Curtis Quinn retired mob enforcer and Beth Jarvis, a 17 yo living in the town of Harlow who is about to learn all of the town's dirty secrets. To Dust You Shall Return is not for the faint of heart as it gets very gory. If I was reading I would have skimmed many sections but that is much harder to accomplish with an audiobook. I would have like mor Thanks to NetGalley and the Dreamscape Media for an advanced readers audio book in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars Told through two characters, Curtis Quinn retired mob enforcer and Beth Jarvis, a 17 yo living in the town of Harlow who is about to learn all of the town's dirty secrets. To Dust You Shall Return is not for the faint of heart as it gets very gory. If I was reading I would have skimmed many sections but that is much harder to accomplish with an audiobook. I would have like more of a back story on The Mayor and how he became so powerful. Gore cut my rating a bit but there were some interesting concepts that kept me reading. Narrator did a good job.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    What a dark and gruesome story! A great horror read. Told from two perspectives - Beth and Curtis. Morally Gray heroes (or antiheroes) with no escape and a truly evil villain. Very macabre with satisfying storytelling with bizarre twists throughout. Though there is a supernatural element, the truly terrible is reserved for the average man and what they are willing to do (or allow to happen) in the name of self-preservation. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent with subtle adjustments to d What a dark and gruesome story! A great horror read. Told from two perspectives - Beth and Curtis. Morally Gray heroes (or antiheroes) with no escape and a truly evil villain. Very macabre with satisfying storytelling with bizarre twists throughout. Though there is a supernatural element, the truly terrible is reserved for the average man and what they are willing to do (or allow to happen) in the name of self-preservation. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent with subtle adjustments to differentiate his characters.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Thanks for the ARC NetGalley. Listened to the audiobook version and the narrator was pretty good but I was frustrated at the lack of pauses between paragraph breaks. The story would often switch between main characters and because the narrator didn't pause, I would have no idea I was listening to a different character until a name was said. The story was moderately interesting, I found some details were left out and the story just skipped ahead or plot points were glossed over, but overall not a Thanks for the ARC NetGalley. Listened to the audiobook version and the narrator was pretty good but I was frustrated at the lack of pauses between paragraph breaks. The story would often switch between main characters and because the narrator didn't pause, I would have no idea I was listening to a different character until a name was said. The story was moderately interesting, I found some details were left out and the story just skipped ahead or plot points were glossed over, but overall not a bad horror-like novel. For the wary reader, there were definitely some gruesome sections.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Two points of view. One town with a dark secret. Kate Jarvis and Curtis Quinn are complete strangers, but they share a common goal. They want to take down The Mayor of Harlow. This book was a good story of a creepy cult town with more to it than meets the eye. Fred Venturini did a good job creating a dark atmosphere and horrific back story that created The Mayor. Thanks Turner Publishing for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nima Morgan

    Initially, as this story unfolded, I wasn't certain if I would like this book and storyline, however after a few chapters the story was enveloping, interesting and the characters made one felt invested in their well-being and journey. This was not the type of book I ordinarily read, but I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. The narrator was not ideal, however, the storyline trumped the narration. Thank you for the ARC of this book. #netgalley, #ToDustYouShallReturn,#dreamscapemedia. Initially, as this story unfolded, I wasn't certain if I would like this book and storyline, however after a few chapters the story was enveloping, interesting and the characters made one felt invested in their well-being and journey. This was not the type of book I ordinarily read, but I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. The narrator was not ideal, however, the storyline trumped the narration. Thank you for the ARC of this book. #netgalley, #ToDustYouShallReturn,#dreamscapemedia.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessie-Punkersfictionreads

    The Dust You Shall Return is a creepy town that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Wow wow wow, this book blew me away honestly. I was not expecting the brutality and gore that we get in this book and I loved every minute of it. I think it’s best to go into this story knowing absolutely nothing and hanging on for the wild ride. I highly suggest checking out this one! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

    Omg, where to start? Could not put this one down-stayed up too late last night because one more chapter! The mayor reminds me a little of Randall Flag aka The Walkin’ Dude and Beth is a badass. I’m a little worried about Quinn though ;-)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Intriguing Really enjoyed this dark story line, different from Fred's previous book I read. Kept me reading on waiting to see what was going to happen next! Another great book Fred!!! Intriguing Really enjoyed this dark story line, different from Fred's previous book I read. Kept me reading on waiting to see what was going to happen next! Another great book Fred!!!

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