I first discovered Mitch Sebourn during the Covid pandemic – and I have to say it’s one of the best things that has come out of all that crazy!
With being stuck in the house and not a lot to do (when I wasn’t at work
) I also decided to set up a YouTube channel
too – and before I started I began researching what makes a good channel and this lead me to watching Well Read Beard
someone who I’ve watched previously, but because it was so good I began watching how to craft great content and hopefully replicate in some way (which is impossible but worth a shot
Well Read Beard mentioned in one of his reviews Mitch Sebourn and a book called ‘Flying Saucer‘ – Kevin (AKA Well Read Beard) was blown away with Mitch’s work and the review itself was stunning, so I decided to purchase a couple of Sebourn’s titles and see what all the fuss is about (disclaimer: If you watch Well Read Beards YouTube channel make sure you bring your bank card, because you will be picking up some books along the way).
I was looking to support indie authors and use my channel to help promote their work and in particular I was looking for horror, I reached out to Mitch and asked him if he had anything that fell into that bracket and he then recommended I check out Folklore and Dust & Time which had just come out but also had a recurring character from Folklore in it called Riley Saunders.
was brilliant, I loved everything about it, it was The Outsider
(you know Stephen King’s offering
) but before The Outsider
was even published – it was a full on adrenaline ride and I was so smitten with Sebourn’s offering, his prose and storytelling craft, coupled with his fabulous protagonist Riley Saunders that I couldn’t wait to get started with Dust & Time
. The thing with both of these books is that I knew nothing about them before I started reading, and well I feel that this played a huge part in me enjoying each of them so much – especially Dust & Time – because it spoke to me in the moment we are all living through and that was a powerful thing indeed.
‘He stunk of dust and time.’
Dust & Time is a sprawling narrative that takes place during a pandemic, no this is not Covid 19 this is a pandemic that mirrors the 1918 flu pandemic. But this pandemic has not only brought back bad memories of that time but has awoken something supernatural and an ancient evil has been unleashed that is thirsty for vengeance, but which one of these has an insatiable hunger? You’ll have to read it to find out.
Being stuck between a rock and a hard place the town not only have to deal with a plague of biblical proportions but a serial killer who appears to have come back from the dead and who is one nasty piece of work – a serial killer who wants one final act of butchery and destruction before he moves on to more fertile soil.
I particularly liked that Sebourn opted to create his own virus instead of using Covid 19 – of course both of these do share some symptoms but it could have been easy to piggyback off of this current state of affairs but Sebourn shows restraint and I have to admire that. I’ve already seen Covid 19 books and films and in my opinion this is just bad taste, trying to cash in on this most terrible life event that people are living through and being affected by – that’s not to say people can never write about Covid 19 but I feel we at least need to let the dust settle before we start parading this in front of people.
Because we are in a pandemic at the moment, I felt that the way Sebourn writes this side of the story is wonderfully accurate and you could really picture what was happening, because as I mentioned we are currently all living through one, so the isolation that some of the characters feel is there on the page, the anxiety of what is going on bleeds into the characters and the prose too. All the little bits about masks, and surfaces and breathing the same air as the contaminated all works well and what could have been hard to imagine before 2020 is now this stories biggest strength – a fully immersive experience that we can all relate to in some way.
What I really loved about Dust & Time is the returning character of Riley Saunders (from Mitch’s book Folklore) – you don’t have to have read Folklore to read this book, they are standalone titles, and Sebourn does enough in this book with subtle references to the first, to make readers also want to pick that one up after reading to find out what the hell happened previously (believe me you’ll want to know more about Riley Saunders). Riley Saunders is such an amazingly fleshed out character, I said this previously in my review of Folklore, Riley Saunders is a less annoying version of Holly Gibney (one of the characters from Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy of books, The Outsider and she also appears in a novella included in If It Bleeds) and I’d love to read more of her in this universe that Sebourn is crafting because it is so rich and brilliantly written.
The horror is ripe in this book, and our serial killer is one nasty piece of work – so this book and I would also say also Folklore both sit firmly in the horror genre, there is gruesome work in here, bloody and depraved writing that in some places really pushes us to the edge of what we are comfortable with.
Sebourn’s writing is on point in this book, it’s crisp and always pushing the story forwards, almost shoving us in the back as we read, wanting to push us further into the ensuing chaos that he’s unfurling before us with one cruel act at a time. Dust & Time is a strange hybrid of a novel, part horror, part crime and part mystery but each of these pieces fits together superbly well and his prose is so rich that I could visualize the whole thing and at points the writing about the The Red Flu which is Sebourn’s virus, made me feel quite uncomfortable – especially when he is detailing how sick people are feeling, it felt like I was sitting with them in their germ infested houses, or a doctors waiting room – after reading I just wanted to sanitize my hands and eyes (please don’t sanitize your eyes – this is dangerous).
As mentioned above I was a little sceptical of this Red Flu at first, but as the story progresses you see quite clearly that the writer isn’t just cashing in on our current plight – it’s just taken what is going on in the world, what we know now, and skewed it slightly. The way Sebourn has linked this to the 1918 flue outbreak and what darkness went on there is masterful and is dealt with like a seasoned professional. It did take me a little time to get on board with the story, a few chapters or so, but once I was in there, there was no way I was leaving, with each turn of the page I fell further under Sebourn’s spell and what a spell it was.
Dust & Time is a horror / crime / mystery that is worthy of coming from the pen and mind of Stephen King. I can’t wait for more of these books and other tales of Riley Saunders.
If you’re after supporting and championing indie writers, discover Mitch Sebourn today and be amazed.
Dust & Time is available here.
We previously reviewed Folklore which you can read here.
Folklore is available here.
Mitch Sebourn is currently working his way through law school while (not so) secretly focusing most of his attention on trying to write The Great American Classic. He has published three novels and a collection of poetry in paperback, as well as a new novel, Watershed, available as a Kindle eBook.
He enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and is looking forward to being married next July.
When he is not sitting atop Tikaboo Peak spying on the inhabitants of Area 51, or scaling the slopes of Colorado’s 14ers, he can typically be found calling the Hogs in central Arkansas.
Review by Ross Jeffery
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