Reviews of Dark Fiction

To Dust You Shall Return by Fred Venturini

Being that “evil in a small town” is one of my favorite horror tropes, when Turner Publishing/Keylight Books offered me this ARC, I greedily jumped on the chance and here we are!

An ex-enforcer for the mob who just lost his common-law wife; a young woman dreaming of escape from her small town and wondering what happened to her sister. Curtis and Beth do eventually meet in Harlow and together, discover what happened to Kate. It’s not pretty, Harlow isn’t pretty and you’d best prepare yourself for this cracking story!

The town of Harlow, like Derry, like Salem’s Lot, has a lot of dark secrets and dark places. Literally dark places, as the town sits on a cave-like network of mines. Unlike those other towns though, once you come in, you have to get permission to leave.

The town comes alive here as we learn the cast and caste of Harlow. There is an order to things, and to people, and you’d best not step out of your assigned place. All of this was succinctly described and brought to life. As the tale progresses we never stop learning about the town and its history and I thought those sections were some of the best in the book.

The population of Harlow takes some time to get to know, but know them we do. Then, before you know it, the whole story twists on itself and what you thought was going to happen turns out to be almost completely incorrect. One more thing: Curtis the ex bad guy? I admit to loving the hell out him even though he’s one of the worst people, like, EVER. Mr. Venturini gets us into his head and yes, it’s an ugly place, but I understood where he was coming from every step of the way. Curtis reminded me a bit of Marv from Sin City and just like I was with him, I was rooting for Curtis.

I’m not saying anything else about the plot other than one plot point didn’t work for me that well, but I was so entertained, it was easy for me to overlook. Other than that, I enjoyed the time I spent in Harlow, and perhaps I’ll get to read more about these characters in the future? If not, I’ll be happy with my memories of them. If “evil in a small town” is one of your favorite tropes, I highly recommend TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN!

Thank you to Turner Publishing/Keylight Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it!

To Dust You Shall Return Book Cover To Dust You Shall Return
Fred Venturini
Dark Fiction, Horror, Suspense, Paranormal
Keylight Books
June 22, 2021
Keylight Books

"Venturini doesn't write in words and sentences. Instead, he lines the page with barbwire, concertina wire and spike strips that deliver the story deep into the reader's skin." –#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Chuck Palahniuk

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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