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Review: What Blooms From Dust by James Markert

“I learned early on that the coin was never wrong with me”

When a twister rolls through the dusty plains of 1930s Oklahoma and clips the corner of a state prison, Jeremiah Goodbye, infamously known as “The Coin-Flip Killer”, gets a second chance. After being strapped into the electric chair and bound for death, he gets only a quick jolt that seems to reseal his fate before the walls are torn from the building. Armed with a rifle and the coin that landed him in prison in the first place, he heads for his hometown of Nowhere to settle the score with the one who turned him in and married the woman he loved; his twin brother, Josiah.

On the way, he’s followed by an eight-year old boy named Peter, an abandoned victim of the Dust Bowl, and the two make their way to Nowhere together. What awaits them are the tangled mysteries of Jeremiah’s past and the secrets he buried with those bodies three years earlier. Between the waves of dust which tear regularly through the landscape, we’re able to glimpse fragments of Jeremiah’s complicated life before they’re covered just as rapidly as they appeared. Before he has time to face his own demons, things get strange a dust storm of historical proportions hits, a dust storm that would go down in history as “Black Sunday”. It pummels Nowhere with a grim black dust the likes of which the town has never seen, leaving nothing unchanged in its wake, including the citizens of Nowhere. In an unexpected redemption, Jeremiah and Peter set out to change the town’s fate and uncover the origin story which led Jeremiah to the coin all those years ago.

James Markert’s ‘What Blooms from Dust’ is an elaborate modern-day fable that tore all of my expectations to shreds. At times, it was a bit heavy handed in allegory, but that did little to hinder such an impressive narrative. With deep emotional scenes which are felt rather than just read, it’s bound to captivate anyone. A hanging suspense carried throughout the story makes this one a page-turner and before each loose thread is woven with the rest, you’ll be swept into things you never saw coming. It’s more than just a feel-good story. ‘What Blooms from Dust’ is genre fiction at its best, masterfully blending mystery, magical realism, and romance while doubling as a historical portrayal of the 1930s Midwest. This is something for every reader. Full of intrigue and hope, What Blooms from Dust will stir things in you long settled.

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