I Am Dust is the latest novel by Louise Beech, published with Orenda Books. 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?
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.