When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…
The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…
Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?
Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?
Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything. And Chloe has been watching…
For anyone that has kindly taken the time to read my reviews, they will know that I am a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing. She is an accomplished writer, with an innate sense of place, emotion, characterisation and story telling. Never resting on her laurels, with each book she pushes herself to write evermore accomplished novels and I Am Dust is her finest to date. You can’t pigeon hole her writing, she crosses genres with ease and has produced a book that is emotionally charged, thrilling, unsettling and utterly compelling.
From the moment I started I Am Dust I knew it was something special, deeply special.
The atmosphere seems to lift off the page and settle over the reader like a blanket, it wrapped me in the story and left me unable to settle until I had finished it. Those scenes set in Chloe Dee’s past are utterly mesmerising and eerily real, for this book is part thriller, but also part ghost story. Scenes in both her childhood and as an adult, tie the two half’s of the story together perfectly. The dual time narratives coexisting until they combine in an ending, that left me with a book hangover of almost unbearable proportions. Not for a moment does it falter, as Louise Beech creates timelines, teasing out the connections between them, until my nerves where frayed and it felt like my heart was skipping a beat, waiting for a conclusion I was not sure my heart was ready for. We all place our trust in a writer to play on our emotions, well, in I Am Dust, it’s like being on an emotional roller coaster! One moment your excited, exhilarated even, then your sad and emotionally drained, on the edge on what feels bearable. Creating a story that causes such an reaction is the mark of how special Louise Beech’s writing is.
Narrative and story fall flat though, if the characters that fill them are one dimensional! There are no worries about that. Chloe fills the story with a tangible presence. I could easily imagine that she could walk off the page and sit next to me, so real did she feel as I was reading. Her motivations, shaped by her past, inform the decisions and actions of her present. She is both light and dark, neither perfect or too imperfect. Her pain, her need to be loved and recognised for who she or could still become, made her feel all consuming. I felt both her pain, her anger, her vulnerability. I felt like Louise Beech had taken bits of all of us and written them into Chloe, so each could look into the characters eyes and understand all that she is. Her disappointments mirroring ours, her joy reflecting the best of times, her anger borne out of all the times we felt let down or hurt by the actions of others.
Few writers apart from Louise Beech can affect me in the way she does, for she writes from the heart, her passion cascading from each page, as she creates a story which compels you to read on. Don’t expect from her the mundane, books that follow a set pattern, do expect to cry, to laugh, to feel emotions both raw and painful. Most of all expect the unexpected and you will then know you have a writer whose books will forever haunt you. I Am Dust is going into my top ten books of 2020 and though there is a strong field of contenders for this year already, I feel sure this novel will sit amongst them all with accomplished ease.
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About the author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
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