#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2020
My day twenty #bookvent selection is one that have given me sleepless nights. Multiple. Firstly when I read it as I was too absorbed in the story to put it down until I had finished. Secondly whilst I wrestled with where in my bookvent countdown I should put it. It’s a book that really made an impression, combining mystery, suspense, romance and ghosts, and it came so very, very close to being a top three read for me because it made such an impression. The author is known for reinventing herself with each new book, never one to be pigeonholed into any single genre and her writing is beautiful Taking this, and blending it with her other love, the theatre, created a potent mix. So yes, if you haven’t guessed, my day twenty pick is …
I Am Dust by Louise Beech
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.
Dark, haunting, emotional, mesmerising … There are so many words I could use to describe my feelings about this book but I think those four sum it up pretty well. I was left – I don’t know – almost bereft when I finished the book I had become so invested in the story and the characters and the ending … the ending floors you. Take a love story, throw in some legend, a touch of the occult, the ‘Scottish Play’ and a whole pile of teenage love and you will have only a fraction of an understanding of what this book is about. The theatre that Chloe works in is on the verge of restaging a musical that was as steeped in tragedy and superstition as Shakespeare’s finest, stirring up all manner of ghosts, some real, some imagined, driven by former longing and unrequited love. Louise Beech guides readers through a truly tangled web, exploring Chloe’s past and the reasons she turned her back on not only her dreams of performing, but one of the best friends she had in her teenage years. This is a modern tragedy, and Chloe a tragic hero, but it is also so much more than that. The author seamlessly weaves a touch of the supernatural into an already chilling and intrigue laden story, with scenes that can send shivers down the spine but made me all the more determined to read on until, I had devoured the whole book. Louise Beech has captured the feeling of the theatre perfectly, infused it with a sense of something otherworldly, but ultimately gave it a real sense of authenticity and jammed it full of genuinely emotional moments. As I said in my review … ‘this is the story of ambition, greed, unrequited love, jealousy and forgiveness and as much as parts of the story may set you on edge, the ending will bring tears to your eyes, beautifully simple and emotional in that quiet and understated way that Ms Beech excels at. A floating, lyrical, almost mystical read that is simply stunning.’ I can’t think of any better way to sum it up.
You can find my full, more rambling, review of the book here.
Happy #bookvent reading all