I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Dust & Grim by Chuck Wendig. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Dust & Grim by Chuck Wendig, Molly Grim has grown up with her father, who hasn’t been much support for her, and has never known her mother. When her father dies, though, Molly learns she has a brother named Dustin, who now runs the family business since their mother’s death. Molly wants her share of the business, or at least the money, but Dustin is having none of it. Determined to claim what she’s owed, Molly sticks around, only to find out that the family business is rather unconventional: it’s a mortuary for monsters. And Molly might just have accidentally set off a chain of events that could destroy the world.
This is a really odd, but really charming novel, perfect for Halloween!
The characters are an eclectic, entertaining bunch. Molly is spunky, Dustin is grouchy, and both are sympathetic and relatable. The others like Ember, Vivacia, and Maggie (?) are excellent too, bringing lots of personality to the bleak, spooky setting. Plus I found the dialogue and banter to be pretty fantastic. Also, I have to mention my two favorite characters because they’re amazing: Florg, the shimmery mass of gaseous matter who speaks in all caps, and Dave Peterson, the vampire who says things like “golly” and drinks bison blood with a bendy straw. I love them.
As for the main two, I enjoyed watching the relationship between Molly and Dustin develop. They start out so antagonistic and prickly towards each other, but end up much closer, wanting to support and protect each other. It’s a really sweet progression, though I would have liked to see more of Dustin, and go a bit more in depth into his bond with Molly. And, minor thing, they don’t really talk to each other like siblings (I’ve never heard any real life siblings say “big bro” or “little sis” aloud), but I suppose it makes sense—these two don’t know how to be siblings, but they’re trying.
And really, the theme of family is a major one here. Reuniting with family, as well as making a new family from people who might not be blood-related. Both are important, and Wendig makes that clear. It’s a very wholesome idea, especially for a book that features a cemetery and feral vampires and corpse-chomping monsters with such prevalence.
In the end, I had a lot of fun reading Dust & Grim. The characters are a wonderful bunch, the world is well designed, and the action—while really quite bizarre at times—is intense and exciting. The sibling relationship could have used a bit more complexity and development, as could the operations of the mortuary business, but this is still a delightful tale about believing in yourself and working together and accepting others and finding families. It’s funny, serious, weird, scary, kind, and an all-around great read, one for which I hope there’s a sequel. It also made me want a libroratory (a library and a laboratory).
Overall rating: 8.7/10
Dust & Grim was published on October 19th, 2021!