A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all
– I Am Dust
[ About the Book ]
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…
[ My Review ]
I Am Dust is the latest novel by Louise Beech and will be released with Orenda Books in original paperback April 16th (digital available now) It is described as ‘a bewitching, beguiling and dark psychological thriller recalling the theatre noir of Ngaio Marsh with supernatural elements and a modern spin.’
Chloe Dee is an usher working for many years at The Dean Wilson Theatre, a place surrounded by mystery and rumour. Over twenty years ago, actor Morgan Miller, was murdered in her dressing room during the performance of the now iconic musical, Dust. It was a glittering performance and Morgan Miller was incredible in her performance of leading lady, Esme Black. But following her murder the play was cancelled. Those who had been lucky enough to see it had vivid recollections of Morgan’s performance. She owned the stage, she captivated the audience.
“I’m still here; I am dust
I’m those fragments in the air
the gold light dancing there
that breeze from nowhere”
-Dust, the Musical
The Dean Wilson Theatre has struggled since those days. Ticket sales never recovered following the scandal but for Chloe Dee, the theatre held very special memories. Chloe loved the stage, loved the atmosphere, the aura that surrounds a stage performance. Chloe always dreamed of treading the boards but it was a dream she knew she would never fulfill.
Chloe attended drama school as a teenager. It was during those years that an experience was to impact her life in ways she could never imagine. Chloe’s family always felt that she had very special qualities. Her experiences of life, how she saw and heard things, added a peculiarity to her character. Chloe did not like herself too much during those angst-riddled teenage years. Confused and bewildered by her thoughts and feelings left Chloe in a very lonely place, a place where she sought comfort by other means.
When the big announcement arrives that Dust is returning, it’s big news. Speculation is rife as to who will fill the role played by Morgan Miller. Who is brave enough to step into her shoes and revive the roll of Esme Black?
With bated breath, the staff of the theatre await the news and when Chloe hears who it is, she is completely thrown. Her past starts to reemerge as memories take hold. Chloe is frightened. She is afraid of her own emotions but also because of something else. Chloe had buried deep the events that had ultimately shaped her life, but now they are back to haunt her, bringing an unknown presence in their wake.
I did feel that, at times, I Am Dust read more like a YA novel. Chloe’s character was depicted as much younger than I would have placed her. Her personality seemed to have stagnated in her teen years.
I Am Dust is quite an unusual and quirky read incorporating many different genre – part ghost-story, part psychological-thriller, part murder-mystery. It has a very haunting quality and is quite a visual experience, in particular the gothic element to the tale.
There is a constant sense of dread, an expectation of something dark and frightening. It’s a book that could easily transfer to the theatre with Louise Beech’s own personal experiences of working in the industry bringing an authenticity to the tale.
I Am Dust is a unique reading experience, one that definitely evokes the noir, with a very artistic flair. It is a supernatural and suspenseful tale with a rather unexpected ending!!!
The scene is set, the actors are ready, the curtain is about to lift. Have you got your ticket yet?
[ Bio ]
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.
Twitter ~ @LouiseWriter
What a fantastic review! x
Thank you Meggy x