Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for I Am Dust by Louise Beech. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to Orenda Books for my digital review copy. Do check out the post for my tour buddy, Jacob at Hooked From Page One.
About the Book
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…
Format: Paperback (300 pages) Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 16 April 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Find I Am Dust on Goodreads
“I’m still here; I am dust. I’m those fragments in the air, the gold light dancing there, the breeze from nowhere.”
The tagline on Louise Beech’s website is ‘Making Magic With Words’ and there’s more than a touch of magic, including of a dark kind, woven into I Am Dust.
With its numerous superstitions, the theatre naturally lends itself to being the setting for a story with a generous sprinkling of spooky goings-on, including radio messages that no-one else hears, writing on mirrors that no-one else sees, glimpses of shadowy figures in the auditorium or backstage, and doors that mysteriously open and close without warning. Those who have read her previous book, Call Me Star Girl, will appreciate the author’s ability to create a spine-chilling atmosphere from something as simple as an empty building late at night.
In Chloe, the author gives the reader an unflinching but always sensitively handled portrait of a troubled young woman. Chloe has always harboured ambitions to be an actress but, for the time being, has to make do with the role of usher at the now rather rundown Dean Wilson Theatre. Its glory has faded since the time the musical Dust premiered there, although the events of that night have given it a ghoulish notoriety. Now the shows it puts on are decidedly less iconic and more often than not play to sparse and not very appreciative audiences. (I suspect the author had a bit of fun inventing the shows. Please tell me the tribute act Pelvis Presley really exists.)
I did enjoy the depiction of the process of getting a show ready from initial read-throughs to set mock-ups and technical rehearsals, no doubt informed by the author’s own experience with the Hull Truck Theatre.
Alternating between the present day and fourteen years earlier, the reader sees a game involving Chloe and two teenage friends transform into something much darker. Although they do not know it then and will not fully realise it for many years, it will change the course of their lives forever. “We never forget. We choose not to remember.”
By the way, like those who stay at the end of a film to watch the credits roll in the hope of seeing a bonus scene or outtake, book bloggers who have taken part in tours for previous books by Louise will find a reward in her generous Acknowledgements section at the end of the book.
A skilfully crafted combination of crime mystery and ghost story, I Am Dust is an intensely atmospheric tale of ambition, obsession, desire and betrayal.
In three words: Spooky, chilling, suspenseful
Try something similar: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, 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.