‘I have seen ghosts. They will not rest. The whispers of the past are all around…’
Sweeping from the bustling beaches of contemporary Lima to local ceviche bars crammed with fishermen, music and folklore; from the rise and fall of the Inca Empire to a civil war that will devastate a nation, The Dust Never Settles is a love letter to Peru.
And running through it all, like the warm smell of orange blossom she remembers from her childhood, is Anais, who has returned to the country she loves after seven years abroad. Her beloved grandparents have passed away, and the time has come for her to sell the ‘yellow house on the hill’.
As Anais prepares to say a final goodbye, she is haunted by memories. Dark truths of previous generations are hidden behind these crumbling walls – secrets that threaten to overwhelm her…
Many thanks to the Squadpod for bringing this book to me attention, and to the publishers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Apologies it has taken me so long to write this – I read the book a while ago, but am still catching up with reviews. I’ve raved about it several times, though, and will continue to do so for reasons I explain below.
I love this book. It’s absolutely chockful of elements that add up to a perfect read for me. We have a brilliantly original protagonist in Anais, a setting that lives and breathes as a character (or many!) in its own right, and a narrative that takes us to dazzlingly unexpected places. There are things here that I am trying hard to achieve with my own work-in-progress, so as a writer, this book had an extra special resonance for me, but as a reader, it’s a sheer delight. It calls to mind One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Pedro Paramo, and, more recently, When I Sing, Mountains Dance (which I also read in 2022) – books that take you on a sweeping journey through generations, that make the borders between past and present permeable, that broaden the limits of reality and rationality and stretch them into something new and strange. It’s the type of novel I find so exciting – books like The Dust Never Settles are, I think, the reason I read.
Anais is a fascinating character, trapped as she is between the world of the living and the ghosts of the past, and the fact that she is pregnant adds another delicious layer of complexity. The yellow house on the hill is such an atmospheric place – I could see it so clearly, in all its shifting guises. The book swoops through time in a dizzyingly acrobatic way, and the touches of myth and mystery that permeate the story add to the sense that this is an old story being remade in a new way.
It’s a book that is both playful and meaningful, funny in outrageous and sometimes shocking ways, but also deeply moving. It has so much of life threaded through it – it feels tapestry-rich, a full and satisfying book that leaves you somehow changed.
I hope I’ve managed to convey something of the profound effect that The Dust Never Settles had on me. I still think about it months after reading, and I know it is one of the few books I will absolutely make time to reread. Probably very soon! Every aspect of this novel worked perfectly for me, and reading it was a joyous experience. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and will be looking out for more from this author.
The Dust Never Settles by Karina Lickorish Quinn is published by Oneworld Publications and is available to purchase here.