Well. Having previously only read The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, I was expecting a science fiction work. A perhaps fantastical one, but sci fi none the less. That is not what I got. From the Dust Returned could be loosely categorized as fantasy, I suppose, but even that doesn’t really fit. The book is bizarre. The first third of it is incomprehensible (beautifully written metaphor abounds, but without nothing to hang on, all those metaphors don’t make sense). The later part of the book does finally start to resemble something of a story, with a plot and an ending, but it is still extremely strange.
The book is about the Family, who are some sort of supernatural beings, maybe vampires, maybe not. Maybe they are all sorts of supernatural beings that claim each other as family just on the basis of them all being supernatural. No way to tell. The beginning of the book is a series of descriptive scenes, for lack of a better term, that have common ground in the fact that they all involve members of the Family, and the House. Somewhere to the middle of the book, there develops a mild sort of plot about the current age of reason and doubt weakening the Family with accumulated disbelief.
I would not normally review a book like this, since I decided to stick with actual science fiction, but I want to give warning to new readers who may not be familiar with Bradbury: THERE IS NO SCIENCE IN THIS BOOK! If you want a quirky read, sort fantasy, sort of horror, very confusing and nonsensical, then go for it. If you are looking for scifi, stick with The Martian Chronicles.
Oh, and based on the excerpts of some of Bradbury’s other works in the back of this book (purportedly some of his best), I would say most of his stories are not sci fi by my definition. Oh well, I’ll read them anyway. He is great writer.