Published by Orenda Books
Available in ebook and Paperback (16 April 2020)
Source: My purchased copy
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, moving and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…
A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all…
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…
I’ve reviewed every one of Louise Beech’s previous 5 books here on the blog – (all reviews are listed below) and was so excited when I saw there was a new one coming. I put my pre-order in last year and my paperback copy finally arrived last week.
I Am Dust is a haunting story (literally) of magic, obsession, betrayal and murder. All wrapped up as a psychological thriller in that unique style that Louise Beech has to make her characters and story come to life.
Actress Morgan Miller was murdered in her dressing room whilst playing the part of Esme Black when Dust was last shown at the Dean Wilson Theatre. It is rumoured that she haunts the theatre and the gold star on her dressing room door with her name on still remains in place.
Chloe Dee is an usher at the theatre, she had dreams of being an actress and is secretly writing her own play. At thirty years old she still obsesses about her first love or rather crush, because it was unrequited love; this person had such an impact on her life.
There are two alternating timelines. One in 2005 when teenage Chloe and her friends, Ryan and Jess, are taking part in ‘that Scottish play’ in a theatre group. Whilst in the empty building at night they begin experimenting with an Ouija board. There is a darkness to this aspect of the story which really does send shivers down the spine. The consequences of those actions have had ramifications for all three, but especially Chloe. The timeline then shifts to 2019 when Chloe is working at the theatre.
When it is announced that Dust is returning to the theatre after 20 years, there is much excitement but also fear. Is the role of Esme Black cursed and why does Chloe feel so scared whenever she steps into Morgan Miller’s old dressing room.
I loved seeing glimpse of what happens when a show is being brought to the stage and all the work that goes on behind the scenes; the building of the stage setting, the excitement of the costumes, the stage markers, the rehearsals, it was quite clear that this was the author’s detailed knowledge from her own work at a theatre.
Chloe is clearly a troubled and complex personality and seemed so vulnerable it was hard not to feel sympathy for her. She was told by her grandmother that she has a ‘gift’ and feels and hears things that other people can’t and it’s this sense of foreboding prevailing over the new production of Dust that really adds to the already haunting atmosphere.
There were other characters that added their part to the story – Chloe’s fellow usher Chester, who with his stirring and gossiping could have been annoying to work with but was a good friend to Chloe, Beth with the ever changing hair colour who I was never quite sure about. Ginger, who bought gloss and glamour. All such good characterisations.
Ghost story, crime, thriller, the story is a crossover of genres but it works so well. The paranormal aspects are done well and are not cheesy but add to the story in a believable way. I don’t want to give anything away but there was one part of the story that almost reduced me to tears.
It really is a wonderful read. I loved it.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour. I was never going to say no to this one!
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.
BARGAIN ALERT! ** I don’t know how long this is available for but some of Louise’s previous books are currently available for download from Amazon UK for just 99p! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Beech/e/B00XUIX0TW?fbclid=IwAR0MaocBHAnFk_yg2Us2ZoIfK8wPdGfGs4lfOH53bpQyeUfSIrkOGWUBK1Q