Blurb: 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…
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?
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 Am Dust is bewitching. Mesmerising. Haunting.
Told in split timelines that alternate we follow our main character, Chloe, as she slowly remembers events of her teenage years and attempts to piece together the memories and her adult knowledge in order to solve the great mystery of her time: who killed Morgan Miller?
Morgan’s murder is by no means the only mystery in Chloe’s life. I was desperately turning the pages in my eagerness to also find answers to the mystery of ‘the other three’, including Daniel Locke, and the mystery of what really happened between Chloe, Ryan and Jess to cause them to lose contact for so many years. This is a real up-all-nighter of a book!
Louise Beech has taken her phenomenal ability to seamlessly merge genres and presented us with a ghost story, love story and murder mystery, all interwoven with sensitive, real, insight into self-harm and psychological damage, and sprinkled with a dusting of the paranormal and magical.
Chloe’s character tells us the story and not only did I find myself anxious for her, but anxious about her and suspicious of her too. It makes for very tense and compelling reading. My heart ached as I saw her struggle to follow her dreams, suppress her desires, hide her scars and yet still reach out for contact with another soul.
There are some dark – almost horror story – moments, with mysterious black birds, blood-red mirrors and bloody knives, however, the thriller and suspense elements are only one facet of the diamond that is I Am Dust. There is also the familiar bitter aching of unrequited love and longing to be loved; the sepia nostalgia of an old-fashioned theatre experience, updated into the paparazzi-flash modern experience of hashtag celebrity and Insta-stars; and beneath it all, the haunting sadness of numberless individuals living their lives behind their stage masks, desperate to be glitter and afraid to be dust. And of course, poor lonely Chloe in the background, behind-the-scenes – picking up the glitter and secretly longing to be dust. Well, to play Esme Black in ‘Dust’ the musical anyway.
I Am Dust is incredibly hard to sum up. There is love and lust, ambition and greed, pain and grief, loyalty and curiosity. There are ghosts and witches, teenagers and adults, murders and memory loss and magic.
The ending left me as breathless and aching as if I had fallen from a great height myself and had the wind knocked out of me. What glitters under the stage lights like gold may turn out to be dust once the curtain falls… but then, isn’t that true of us all?
When they began over a month ago, Ryan had called it a game. He had told them the rules, but along the way they had bent them to fit their needs. ‘We’ll shut it down if it gets weird,’ they had agreed. ‘We’re in control,’ they had said.
Chloe knows now that they all lied.
– Louise Beech, I Am Dust
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