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I Am Dust

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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…

300 pages, Paperback

First published February 16, 2020

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About the author

Louise Beech

20 books326 followers
Also publishes under Louise Swanson.

Louise's debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers' pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon 'quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt'. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was described as 'engrossing and captivating' by the Daily Express. It also shortlisted for the RNA's Romantic Novel of the Year and longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. Call Me Star Girl hit number one on Kobo. It also longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize and won the Best magazine Big Book Award 2019. I Am Dust was a Top Six pick in Crime Monthly and a LoveReadingUK Monthly Pick. This Is How We Are Human was a Clare Mackintosh August Book of the Month 2021. Memoir Daffodils came out in audiobook 2022, as well as novel, Nothing Else. Memoir came out in paperback as Eighteen Seconds in 2023.

Louise also writes as Louise Swanson.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 206 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca.
266 reviews280 followers
June 12, 2022
A Haunted Theatre.
A Murdered Actress.
Three Cursed Teenagers.

A Secret that devastates them all…

I Am Dust is set against the backdrop of a busy theatre and is told in dual timelines, 2005 and 2019. In 2005 three teenagers play a game, a game involving a ouija board, they want powers, but be careful what you wish for…

In 2019 Chloe still works in the theatre, but she starts to remember bits and pieces from the past....she sees and hears strange voices and she wonders if any of it is real…?

I Am Dust is a beautifully written tale, full of emotion, of love and longing. The supernatural edge gives this story a chilling darkness and contains some really creepy and goosebumpy moments. A sad story from beginning to end, things didn't quite turn out the way I thought they would, but that's what made this so interesting. All of the unexpected twists and turns.

A great little supernatural thriller. I read this for my book clubs March pick.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,471 reviews1,012 followers
December 30, 2019
Creepy, compelling, emotionally charged tale of magic and murder, beautifully written and utterly engaging. Leaves you with a sense of melancholy loss for all that could and should have been. Loved it.

Full review to follow most likely for the blog tour. One to watch in 2020.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews289 followers
July 10, 2020
I’m still here; I am dust. I’m those fragments in the air, the gold light dancing there, that breeze from nowhere…

I Am Dust
by Louise Beech


Phantom of the Opera vibes.

I originally DNFED. Not because it is not good but because I was not in the mood for this type of book.

I went back to try to finish. I can see why people would like this. One can gasp over the exquisite writing which is gorgeous.

But I am just tired of Ghost stories and Gothic in general. I will try to read this at a later date because all the reviews are 4 and 5 stars and I know I am missing out.

Ever have that book that you can appreciate but for some reason maybe just cannot get into? Maybe the timing is just wrong.

This was described as haunting and bewitching The pace was slow and I got tired of the radio crackling, strange messages, you three not in same room, over and over. I do not think I am in the mood for a slow burn type of read right now.

I abandoned another book this year that was supposed to be a Gothic Ghost story, so maybe it just is not my thing anymore. I do find that my tastes are changing and I seem to be reading less of the YA Gothic genre.

I do want to pick this up at a later time. As I said, I was reminded of Phantom of the Opera, which is one of my favorite Broadway shows.

Another thing though..this book has one of the most stunning covers I have ever seen. I mean..the cover really is a work of art. Amazing.

If anyone reading this has read the book, comment on what you thought of it. I'd really like to know.
Profile Image for The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew). .
296 reviews621 followers
January 29, 2020
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

I really don’t know where to begin with this review, that sounds great for a blogger doesn’t it?!?! When I finished I Am Dust I was in awe. I was speechless and I had to sit back and take a few minutes to reflect on what I had just read and the profound journey that I had just been taken on. I cannot rate or recommend this book highly enough and I know that whatever words I now find won’t do the book justice. But, I will try my best, it is all I have and all that I can do.

Dust was the first show to be shown at the newly opened Dean Wilson Theatre in 1999. Esme Black was one of the two main characters, Morgan Miller the actress who played her. During the interval of the fourth performance of Dust Miller was murdered in her dressing room. The show was shut down, cancelled, it never got to finish its run and Miller never got to finish her performance. Since then, it has been rumoured that Miller haunts the theatre, the gossamer, wraith-like and restless ghost of her in full Esme Black costume has been seen on occasion and numerous times her voice has been heard singing the songs from Dust…her killer was never found and her murder remains unsolved.

Now, after twenty years, Dust is returning to the stage, to the theatre where it began for its twentieth anniversary. The revival of Dust is controversial, some think that due to its tragic history that it shouldn’t return. But, for most, the return is met with enthusiasm and excitement. The theatre hasn’t been doing well in recent years with subpar shows and a dwindling audience. Going back to where it all began and with the celebrity of the unsolved murder of the original leading lady hanging over the revival of Dust all that will change, there will be a surge in popularity, a clamour to see the show, every night the seats will be full and the show sold-out.

I Am Dust is told in dual timelines that blend flawlessly together and are attuned in perfect harmony. 2005 with Chloe and her two teenage friends Jess and Ryan rehearsing for a performance of Macbeth over the summer at the local youth theatre. And, in 2019 with Chloe now an usher at the Dean Wilson Theatre where she has worked for six years.

Back in 2005, against the backdrop of teenage angst and unrequited love, it is the last summer before Chloe, Jess and Ryan will go their separate ways and they decide that when not rehearsing to play a dangerous game, taking part in things that are better left alone and they start using an Ouija board. The three are messing with forces beyond their ken, summoning spirits and talking to the roaming departed of the in-between.

In 2019, while the other shows are still taking place in the run-up to the premiere and the opening night of Dust the Dean Wilson Theatre is preparing, getting ready and building the anticipation with journalists and film crews documenting the return, the new cast, the rehearsals and the new stage also being built. Showing you the hustle-and-bustle, the flurry of activity, the movement and the sound, the glitz and the glamour of the theatre and those who are the glitter. Along with the backstage, the workers who fly under the radar, who make it all happen and who pick up the glitter. Dust was the musical that made Chloe fall in love with the theatre and since then, it has always held a place in her heart. Chloe loves Dust, it is the musical that started her love of the theatre. But, she is reticent about the return, she has a bad feeling, a sense of foreboding that the show shouldn’t happen and with the return, Chloe starts hearing eerie and ominous messages crackling over the radio and seeing hallucinations. Chloe has forgotten about that summer. But, memories have started coming back to her, hazy recollections as seen through a fog getting clearer and clearer like the fog, the mist is lifting. The events of those long-ago days linger, they cast a long shadow, what was awoken still roams and there are consequences that finally, after fourteen years come to a head in the present.

As the main character, my heart broke for Chloe, she is damaged, real, scarred and, sadly, for many, certain aspects of her will be easy to relate to. The daily and never-ending battle that they have to face, that never goes away and that is always there. There’s a sense of sadness to reading about Chloe, how you find a way to take away the pain even if only for a moment, hurting physically to forget the mental torment that you are suffering. Even if that isn’t the case for you, as a character she is easy to connect with, likeable with someone who you care about.

There are themes of ambition, greed, love, loss, obsession, jealousy and betrayal to be found in the story. A feeling of tension runs through the unfolding story in I Am Dust, a disquiet and unease for what is yet to come and, for what will come to pass. It is a captivating story that is saturated in atmosphere and is highly atmospheric throughout. In places it is sinister, sinistrous in a grounded, understated and subtle way that crawls, that creeps under your skin with some sublime imagery that sets you on edge. The Dean Wilson theatre and the old church are both characters and more than the mere locations where the story takes place. There’s no overembellishment or added dramatics to the haunting of the theatre or when the trio are sat in the darkened church, simply, they aren’t needed. Within the theatre, the ghostly occurrences are spooky with, if you will pardon the pun no theatrics. For the church, the minimal and sparse setting, the three candles flickering in the dying light of the day upon the stage where the Ouija board is set is all that is needed and it is chilling as they commune with the dead.

I Am Dust is beautifully written, evocative and powerful. Humour also has a place in the story thanks to Chester, a co-worker of Chloe’s at the Dean Wilson Theatre and a terrible gossip. There is an emotional undercurrent to the story, the type of emotion that ignites, that sparks, that courses through the pages like electricity, that is charged and the words are layered with depth and significance. They are the base, the core, the foundation, the heart and the soul and they mean everything. With Beech, there is magic at play in Chloe, in the story and in the words that she has written. You aren’t just reading a story, you are transported, you are with the characters living their story. There is something heartbreaking about the story, that rends, that tears at you, that moves you, that touches your soul and that leaves you brittle from what you have just experienced. I’m not going to lie, as I turned the final page of I Am Dust I had a tear in my eye.

There is beauty to the darkness and to the sadness found within the story of I Am Dust that haunts both the pages and the words. It combines together murder mystery, love story, ghost story and psychological thriller to create sheer emotional brilliance.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,566 reviews175 followers
September 6, 2020
Louise Beech’s latest psychological thriller is ghostly, mysterious, emotional, atmospheric and has a touch of the supernatural. After enjoying her previous unique novel ‘Call Me Star Girl’ and always having enjoyed her beautifully written stories, I was just desperate to read ‘I Am Dust’. Set within a working theatre involving secrets, betrayals and hauntings this was a fabulous read. I particularly enjoyed the story being told from the perspective of an usher working in the theatre whilst the plays were performing. A setting I haven’t read about before and was hugely interesting.
The story of an actress haunting the theatre after being murdered backstage was very intriguing and had me turning the pages with intense trepidation. Hundreds of theatres up and down the country must have their own tales of hauntings, including my own home city’s ‘The Sunderland Empire’, where it’s rumoured Sid James haunts the building after dying onstage.
When three teenagers in 2005 tempt fate with an ouija board, are they releasing consequences that will have fatal repercussions for them later in life? I’ve always been fascinated by contacting spirits but never dared tried the experience myself so I found the premise very alluring.
The characters were really well portrayed and each one was original and likeable. I totally fell in love with Chloe, she was scarred, troubled but very endearing and I was with her in spirit every step of the story. Chester was a wonderful addition to the cast with his humour and lovely personality and could picture him quite clearly.
I was emotionally drained by the ending, so powerful, poignant and beguiling. Very apt and so well written.
Louise’s stories just keep getting better and better and I can’t wait for her next novel which will be another guaranteed tear jerker.

Many thanks to Lovereading for my copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,347 reviews5 followers
March 2, 2020
I AM DUST is a dark psychological thriller/ghost story by Louise Beech. It is a tale of magic and murder. This is the first book I have read by this author, and while it is not my usual genre, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much.

My mother always told me to never mess around with a Ouija board…and it was for a good reason. You never knew what you could stir up. While some of us have been intrigued by the idea, few have proceeded any further.

Twenty years ago, actress Morgan Miller was found dead in her dressing room at the Dean Wilson Theatre. The theatre is believed to be haunted.

In 2005, Ryan, Jess and Chloe are actors, in the production of Macbeth, but Chloe stole the show when she detoured from the script and improvised.

In 2005 three curious teenagers, Ryan, Jess, and Chloe come together over a month ago to play a game on a Ouija board. Ryan had called it a game. They had bent the rules to fit their needs. They agreed if things got strange, they would shut it down. They felt they were in control…but that wasn’t true.

During this final Ouija board session, all three teenagers asked for something. Ryan asks for wealth, Jess wants to play the part of Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller in the upcoming musical DUST, and Chloe wants to know who killed Morgan. And the response from Morgan was:

You Three Never Be Under One Roof

This meant the end of their friendships. The last night on the Ouija board, Jess agrees not to see Chloe or Ryan again.

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 musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will want to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black?

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?

I Am Dust was a totally gripping, addictive novel that held my attention from the very first page and I wasn’t at all able to put it down. I had to keep reading to see how it would play out. Very enjoyable read. Will definitely have to sample some of her other novels.

Many thanks to the author, Orenda Books and THE BOOK Reviewer Request Group (FB) for my digital copy.
Profile Image for Eva.
838 reviews428 followers
February 7, 2020
Let me just tell you up front that this review, if I can even call it that, will not do this novel any justice at all as Louise Beech’s novels always leave me speechless. I Am Dust is one of those stories that left me in need of a breather, some time to reflect, to let it all sink in before even trying to compile thoughts and put words to what I was feeling. But as I start writing this review, I’m still very much speechless and the only word my brain seems to be able to come up with is WOW.

One of the many joys in picking up a book by Louise Beech is that you never know what to expect. This extremely talented author criss-crosses and combines genres like no other. The one thing you CAN always count on is truly glorious and beautiful writing. And quite possibly the need for tissues at some point or other.

I didn’t read the book description so all the information I had to go on was this :
"A haunted theatre, a murdered actress, three cursed teenagers, a secret that devastates them all …"

Little else was needed for me to be absolutely sold on this book from the get-go. A psychological thriller then? And maybe, just maybe, no tissues required this time around? Ha! It becomes clear quite quickly that no, of course this isn’t going to be your typical run-of-the-mill psychological thriller. This is Louise Beech after all!

Twenty years ago, actress Morgan Miller was found dead in her dressing room at the Dean Wilson Theatre during the run of the musical Dust. Rumour has it she’s been haunting the theatre ever since, looking for her killer. Now, the theatre’s most successful play is making a comeback. But who would want to take on the iconic role of Esme Black? As a fan of the original Dust musical and now working as a theatre usher, Chloe Dee is right in the thick of things.

Ah, the bright lights of the stage. Yet, this story isn’t all glamour and glitter. Definitely not for a theatre usher and I truly enjoyed seeing things from Chloe’s perspective. Her uniform, the jobs she needs to do, the way she’s almost invisible to the audience. It all stands in stark contrast to the adoration the actors receive.

I Am Dust is a haunting tale of jealousy and ambition with a dose of teenage angst, unrequited love and a dash of witchcraft. I found myself utterly mesmerised by all of it, as if I was under a spell. Immensely gripping, hugely addictive and fabulously atmospheric, this novel just swept me off my feet from the very first page and I wasn’t at all able to put it down. Without giving anything away, there is a sense of foreboding throughout. That feeling you get when you just know things will probably not end well but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.

I see it as a personal challenge not to reach for the tissues when I read one of Louise’s books and I was convinced I was going to nail that particular challenge this time around. But no. Sucker-punched in the final pages, right there in the feels, as the kids would say? Check! I swear she does it on purpose. Reaching the end of this wonderful story, flipping that final page and realising there was no more, I felt quite bereft. I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, sad that their stories had reached their conclusions, sad that the magic spell had been broken and I found my two feet planted firmly back into reality again.

Louise Beech is an author who needs to be on everyone’s bookshelves. She’s an author who leaves everything on the page and as a reader you feel it from the top of your head to the tips of your toes but mostly, way deep down in your heart. I absolutely loved this book and you can rest assured you’ll be seeing it again on my list of “books of the year”.
Profile Image for Claire.
665 reviews284 followers
June 1, 2020
A Declaration of Personal Interest and Bias

Yes, this book is amazing and so is the author and her daughter and her grandfather. I feel like I know them all, though we've never met. And I'm unable to give an objective opinion because this book as well as her debut How to Be Brave will forever be etched into my heart and mind as reads I somehow experienced and have a very personal connection to.

A Dedication

This book was dedicated by the author to my 17 year old daughter Allia Jen who passed away suddenly and without warning in Aug 2019 as the last chapters to this book were being written. Like Louise's daughter she lived with the daily grind (4 injections/day) of Type 1 diabetes. Her debut novel (about a challenging diabetes diagnosis and an ardurous 'lost and survived' at sea story) How to Be Brave was my reading choice when she had corrective back surgery for scoliosis in 2016.

I discovered or we imagined some kind of psychic connection, because that book took us all on a real trip, me experiencing symptoms of being lost at sea and for Allia Jen, the post midnight, morphine-induced presence of three beings with "strange English accents" present in the room, 'Granddad Colin', I said.

My daughter loved theatre, it was her favourite holiday activity, to sign up for those week long, full day, theatre activities, mostly improvisation rarely ever scripted. At first it seemed incomprehensible, for she'd passed six years of primary school mute, never speaking in class, to her school friends, or the teacher. And then she wants to sign up for theatre? Yes, but never with friends or anyone who knew her and I wasn't allowed to come to the final show. I didn't mind. I just loved that she'd found her voice and was projecting it on stage.

So 'I Am Dust', a suspenseful, teen drama, with a psychic element and a protagonist whose great love is the theatre, who is creative and doesn't recognise her own talent, is a magical and meaningful gift to a mother who totally gets it. The power is in us all along.

The Review

The novel is written as a dual narrative, set in 2005 when Chloe, her friend Jess and Ryan are teenagers in a youth theatre group that is rehearsing Macbeth; and alternate chapters set in 2019 when Chloe is an usher at the local Dean Wilson Theatre, Jess is now 'Ginger' and no-one has seen or heard of Ryan since that summer of Macbeth.
Morbid curiosity, youthful bravado and teenage love had joined the three of them, on a dusty stage in a church.

The theatre is said to be haunted by long-dead actress Morgan Miller who played the lead in the opening premiere of the musical 'Dust' whose season ended after only four nights due to the tragedy.

The three teens become involved in a game, all of them wanting different things, and as the narrative plays out in the present, Chloe begins to remember what happened in the past, things she'd forgotten.
For some reason when Chloe chatted with Jess, a void cracked open and memories Chloe hadn't known were there slithered out, like lava laden with debris - the dusty stage at the youth theatre, a box with letters and a glass in it, and three shimmering candles.

As readers, the past is revealed slowly and the present moves towards the re-staging of that long ago iconic musical, creating an atmosphere of eerie suspense and renewed interest in the unsolved murder of the lead actress.
'How did we forget?
'Don't people bury traumatic memories?'
'Maybe,' muses Ginger. 'But it's more like...I don't know. It's like the synopsis of a play. We just can't see the actual script.'
'I agree. I can see bits clearly...other stuff, not so much.'

At times, it feels like the suspense is dragged out and the scenes with the teens seem to end prematurely making us wait for them to meet again, but by the time to musical is close to opening for the second time in the present, the pace picks up and I'm no closer to suspecting the truth behind the mystery of the novel, my one suspicion turns out to be hopelessly wrong and the finale comes as a shock.

And then the most beautiful, reverent ending that evoked all kinds of emotion in me and had tears rolling my cheeks. Even now I have to look back at the dates that the book was being written and remember what was happening in our own lives at that time and how much more I understand about life after death than I did before August 2019.
'That's what I found the hardest,' admits Morgan, still golden gorgeous in the glow of the mirror lights. 'Never getting to say goodbye to anyone properly. But there are ways you can. Love lingers. It's still there, even if you're not.'

I can't say whether this book is for you or not, but I want to say thank you to Louise Beech for following her heart and her passion, for she too is like the protagonist, a lover of theatre, an usher and a girl with a few screenplays in her top drawer that I hope one day will, like Chloe's, make it onto the stage.

Written from the heart, it brings the stage alive, igniting the imagination of those who have a passion for theatre, whether from the front mezzanine seats or in the spotlight.
Profile Image for The Book Review Café.
712 reviews196 followers
February 17, 2020
For once I’m lost for words, or rather the written word, I’m not sure I can put my thoughts into a coherent review for I Am Dust by Louise Beech. So how about you just buy the book and save me the trouble of trying to write a review that can do justice to this extraordinary, haunting novel. Louise Beech is such an extraordinary author, she doesn’t just write a book; she gives each book a heart, a heart that gives life to her stories and her characters. I Am Dust takes you on a journey of magic and murder, love, ambition, jealousy and loss. It’s a ghost story entwined with a murder mystery, but it’s not the kind of ghost story that’s outside the realm of possibility, it’s plausible, heartbreaking, unnerving and creepy.

I Am Dust moves flawlessly between the past and the present, Chloe and two friends, Ryan and Jess are attending a Summer youth theatre group and decide as a group to experiment with an Ouija board, events spiral out of control, friendships are tested, and the horror of those days will continue to haunt Chloe into adulthood. These scenes are so powerful and hauntingly creepy, they crackle with anticipation, horror and an increasing sense of dread. Fast forward to the present and Chloe is working at The Dean Wilson theatre as an usher, when she is told Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years, a show that never made it past its fourth performance when the show’s star was found dead in her dressing room. Chloe should be elated, but instead she feels a premonition, a growing sense of dread, as she experiences eerie noises and ghostly sightings, and forgotten memories from her past come back to plague her.

The scenes set in the Theatre are wonderfully descriptive; they conjure up the excitement of a new performance, the glitter and the glitz, and the hustle and bustle of a working theatre, a place where glitter and dust collect and move as one. The theatre is shrouded in a tragic story, one that has led to ghost stories, hauntings and strange occurrences, it’s the setting along with the characters that capture the reader’s imagination. As the novel progresses Louise Beech weaves Chloe’s past and present together creating a mystical, all-consuming read that’s nigh on impossible to put down.

Chloe’s story is one that will break your heart, it’s haunting, emotional, her character will capture your heart, she will linger in your thoughts, you sense Chloe’s vulnerability, the emotions she experience are raw, emotive and powerful. When I reached the last pages of I Am Dust the tears flowed at the beauty of this story, for Chloe and for the power of Louise Beech’s written word. Definitely a contender for my book of the year and my favourite Louise Beech read so far. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,880 reviews1,644 followers
February 20, 2020

The well known Dean Wilson Theater is thought to be haunted by an actress, long dead. Rumor is she wanders through the theater singing the last song she ever sung, looking for the person who killed her.

After 20 years, the production of DUST, a musical, is returning. So who will play the part of Esme Black, last played by the murdered Morgan Miller?

Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games? ? Is the role of Esme Black cursed?

This is part ghost story, part crime fiction, part thriller. Characters are finely drawn. Throw in a nicely paced mystery, and things that go bump in the night, like conjuring spirits and throwing out spells, and especially the Ouija board and you have a story that will dominate your time for a few hours. This is not my preferred genre, but I did find it entertaining.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,794 reviews4,440 followers
March 29, 2020
I Am Dust hops between three time periods. 1999: the musical Dust opens at the Dean Wilson Theatre and is a roaring success; during its run, the lead actress is murdered in her dressing room, shutting down the production but making the musical infamous. 2005: three teenage drama club members – Chloe, Jess and Ryan – experiment with ouija boards and get more than they bargained for. 2019: Chloe works as an usher at the Dean Wilson Theatre. When a revival of Dust is announced, she's brought back into contact with her old friends, and begins to recall strange, long-suppressed memories.

Based on the blurb, I suspected this was going to be one of those thrillers that teases a spooky element but eventually reveals it's all in the characters' heads. So I was delighted to discover that I Am Dust is actually a proper ghost story. There's no ambiguity: what happens to Chloe, Jess and Ryan IS supernatural, and that's that. Louise Beech fully embraces the ghostly side of her story and incorporates it into every other aspect of the plot – the murder mystery, the romance, the tale of Chloe's self-actualisation.

There's something really special about the way Beech portrays Chloe's life at the theatre and the everyday magic she derives from her role as an usher. It half had me wanting to quit my job and follow in her footsteps. I fell in love with these characters (especially Chloe and her colleague Chester) and I found the last few chapters absolutely heart-wrenching.

A creepy murder mystery revolving around a musical sounds like fun. But I Am Dust is more than that, I think. It's a ghost story with real heart, and that's something you don't find very often.

1,224 reviews20 followers
April 28, 2020
The blurb on this sounded so good. Sadly the reality was that it was a pretty boring read. Felt more like a YA read. An old play is about to be re-staged at the Will Dean theater in Hull. The play sells out in record time due to the public's ongoing fascination with the original production during which the lead actress was murdered in her dressing room. Will lightning strike twice. Found it boring.
Profile Image for Carol.
Author 5 books26 followers
December 29, 2019
The art of magic aka being careful what you wish for.

I know magic – the authentic kind – inside out and back to front. In I Am Dust, Louise Beech reveals that she does too. Whether from experience or instinct is irrelevant. On the page, Beech’s innate grasp of the nature of magic glitters. She understands the consequences. The law of karma and how what goes round inevitably comes round…

In 2005, three friends embark on a game – a youthful experiment with an Ouija board. What begins as a half-hearted escapade turns into a nightmare and the resulting ghosts, once woken, don’t want to lie down. In 2019 at least one of them is still abroad and Chloe Dee, usher at the Dean Wilson Theatre is reluctantly drawn back into the past, reliving the terrifying experiences she thought she had managed to forget.

The Dean Wilson theatre is reputed to be haunted, by the actress who premiered the musical Dust and who was murdered in her dressing room on the first night. Twenty years later, caught up in the musical’s exciting, if controversial, revival, Chloe is faced with the reality of who she really is. Dark dramas, obsession, fear and tragedy linger in the shadows and dust of the old theatre, in the dressing room where a woman died. Chloe gradually begins to understand where her power lies and what she needs to do to survive the past. But magic is a tricky friend and only the foolhardy mess with it. Witchcraft is more than simple spells and youthful daring. It has purpose and intention, and ghosts with agendas do too.

‘Where do you think we go when we die?’ a character asks…

Where indeed…. Oh children, be careful, what you ask for…

I cannot praise this book highly enough. Yes, I’m a massive fan of the author’s previous books; I’m also particular about my magic and picky too. This book works: magically, emotionally and psychologically. There is meaning here – layers of it. The narrative moves seamlessly from scene to scene – between past and present. Every word is nuanced – I love how the author drew me in. There were moments when it was as if she was in the room, telling me the story in person. I understood Chloe – felt her fear and her courage, her humanity as she finally grew into her power.
Speaking as a witch woman, there really aren’t enough stars.
Profile Image for Destiny.
201 reviews106 followers
July 3, 2020
Couldn't finish...DNF at over halfway through. Read more like a YA novel with very poor execution. So much teen angst that was unnecessary and didn't add to the storyline. So much potential but didn't follow through. Bleh.
Profile Image for Karen.
896 reviews485 followers
May 2, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
717 reviews225 followers
April 1, 2020
You know you are in trouble when your first thought after finishing an epic book is how on earth are you going to review it? How on earth can I do it justice? Never has dust been so visible. I am Dust is outstandingly perfect!

This was an amazing read. This is a book that you don’t want to review straight away. You need to take a breather and relish in the absolute mastery that is I am Dust. It is a story that envelops your soul, becomes at one with your psyche and knows at your senses. This book flows so beautifully that it speaks to you on a raw and deeper level. It reads easily, and you end up being so absorbed in the plot. You are absorbed by the pages until you are living and breathing the story. There isn’t enough stars that I could possibly rate this book at realistically.

The Dean Wilson Theatre has newly opened. The year is 1999, and the first show being shown is Dust. Morgan Miller plays the character Esme Black. The unfortunate event that occurred on the fourth showing as the murder of Morgan Miller. The inevitable action being that the show was cancelled. There was no successful encore, no new roles, just a wasted potential. It has been rumoured that Miller haunts the theatre, in her full Esme Black get up. The case was never solved, and her murderer is still on the loose. The threatening shadows keep you on your toes. You can feel the threat. Louise Beech’s writing is magnificent. My senses were on red alert. I could see the mystery, sense the fear. The story was seeped in coldness. The characters are balancing a sheet of thin ice – one movement could immerse us all.

We are now twenty years in the future and Dust is returning for a comeback show. It splits its audience – some are anticipating great things, and some believe that it should be left well alone. The theatre ultimately hope that this revival will bring a necessary injection of renewed customers. Bringing it back to where it all began could either cure or kill the theatre’s survival. I was enamoured with the plot and couldn’t see the impending threats that slowly began to reveal themselves.

We meet some new characters. Chloe being the one that touched me on a raw and gritty level. For me she is easily led with a resounding need to just fit in. she is a broken character and the emptiness that screams at us from behind her eyes is enough to crack the readers hearts into a thousand pieces. The story has an undercurrent of melancholy and it is very easy to fall into a saddened state while experiencing the characters life. Louise Beech has managed to intertwine two lives that were connected through the ages.

I am Dust is gritty and compelling. It is dead set to be a book that gets everyone talking in 2020. It’s visceral, addictive and Louise Beech’s storytelling is so mind-blowing that she takes it an elusive quality.
Thanks to Anne @ Random Things Tours for my spot on the blog tour.
April 30, 2020
So pretty much all I have to do is see "thriller from Orenda Books" on an email and I'm sunk. I've had such great luck with the books I've read for their blog tours and I am thrilled to say I Am Dust is no exception.

Dust was the first show for the Dean Wilson Theatre. And it definitely put the theatre on the map because the lead actress, Morgan Miller, was murdered during its run. Miller's murder was never solved and such a tragedy left a haunted imprint on the venue. Now, twenty years since the original run, Dust is being revived. Many believe this is a bad decision as they think the musical is cursed. Add is a ghost, some ominous sounds and a eerie backdrop and this book has all the makings of a good thriller.

The tale is told in dual timelines which is a writing technique I almost always enjoy. The reader gets a glimpse of what happened in the past and how those incidents are shaping present day activities. I also found it to be a highly atmospheric read. I really felt a connection to Chloe, the MC, and truly felt her sadness. And it's an automatic given that a night filled with best friends and a Ouija board are bound to come back to haunt Chloe years later.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole novel. Because of the spooky atmosphere, reading it was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially if they have an extra interest in musicals and theatres since I found all the glamour surrounding the production very interesting.

Orenda Books, you've done it again!
Profile Image for Tripfiction.
1,649 reviews197 followers
February 16, 2020
Novel set in a theatre (Hull)

The Dean Wilson theatre opened in 1999 with a production of Dust, a musical. The production looks set to be a real winner until, only four days into its run, the leading lady, Morgan Miller, is murdered in her dressing room. No one is convicted of her murder and, from that date, her ghost is said to haunt the theatre; her wraith-like figure has been glimpsed lurking in the gloomy rooms backstage and her beautiful voice can often be heard delivering songs from the musical.

Now, twenty years later, the show is to be revived and performed again in the theatre where it was first staged. The staff in the theatre are thrilled by the news, although also a little apprehensive. Will it bring misfortune again if the musical is staged and who will dare to audition for the main role? Chloe, the central character in the novel, has more cause than most to be uneasy since she has personally experienced several supernatural occurrences when the ghost of the dead actress has made her presence felt. The controversial decision to revive the musical, however, proves justified when tickets for the show sell out almost immediately. The Dean Wilson theatre has been struggling for years and this show looks likely to revive its flagging fortunes.

I am Dust is set in two different periods: the first 2005 when we follow teenage Chloe and her two friends, Jess and Ryan, as they rehearse for a local youth theatre performance of Macbeth. It is a scorching hot summer and feelings run high. Chloe watches miserably as her best friend Jess, playing Lady Macbeth, falls for charismatic Ryan who is playing Macbeth. Chloe is in love with Jess herself but has never declared her feelings. Ryan, much like the character he is playing, is filled with savage ambition and persuades the two girls to participate in a dangerous game of summoning spirits via a Ouija board, with some shocking consequences. Beech manages to convey very sensitively the angst of unrequited love and the turmoil of feelings that can easily overwhelm a teenager. These early scenes are skilfully interwoven with scenes from 2019, when Chloe is working in the theatre and helping to prepare for the new production of Dust, the backstory providing the reader with an explanation for Chloe’s present troubled state.

The whole action of the novel is set in the Dean Wilson theatre in 2019 and in the old building used for the youth theatre in 2005. It is obvious that Beech intimately knows the world of theatre, both front of house and backstage, and she really brings it to life for the reader. There is a real clarity to her prose and some wonderful imagery that evokes the sights, sounds, smells and general atmosphere of the theatre brilliantly.

I am Dust makes for compelling reading. It is a real page-turner, part ghost story, part romance and part whodunnit. It is beautifully written, which is an unexpected bonus in a such a pacy novel and it also sensitively and informatively explores the issue of self-harm. I loved the characterisation. Chloe is fully realised and multi-dimensional and Chester, a delightful character, very much a child of our time, provides some much-needed light relief.

All in all, I’ll be surprised if I read anything else as good as this in 2020.
Profile Image for Gill Paul.
Author 56 books1,547 followers
January 13, 2020
Normally I write reviews as soon as I finish a novel but with this one I wanted to wait a few weeks to let my thoughts settle, because, as with Louise Beech's other novels, this is one helluva trippy ride! She has always been at her best writing about misfits – strange, slightly awkward characters with traumatic pasts – and Chloe is in this vein. When she was a child, her grandmother told her she had a gift but it is only when she is persuaded to take part in Ouija board sessions with two friends in a haunted old church that she begins to realise the power she can wield.
The narrative skips between 2005, when the first Ouija board experiments took place, and 2019 when the musical I Am Dust is returning to the theatre where Chloe works. The theatrical atmosphere is powerfully drawn, and the sessions where they contact spirits are convincingly creepy. There are loads of twists and turns and a lesbian crush as the tension ramps up to breaking point. I raced through, incapable of putting it down, and while I was reading strange things seemed to happen: gadgets broke inexplicably, and there were odd noises through the walls. It's a novel that gets under your skin, forming pictures that stay put. Let's just say I will never go backstage at an old theatre ever again.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,218 reviews230 followers
April 11, 2020
“I’m still here; I am dust. I’m those fragments in the air, the gold light dancing there, the breeze from nowhere.”

The tagline on Louise Beech’s website is ‘Making Magic With Words’ and there’s more than a touch of magic, including of a dark kind, woven into I Am Dust.

With its numerous superstitions, the theatre naturally lends itself to being the setting for a story with a generous sprinkling of spooky goings-on, including radio messages that no-one else hears, writing on mirrors that no-one else sees, glimpses of shadowy figures in the auditorium or backstage, and doors that mysteriously open and close without warning. Those who have read her previous book, Call Me Star Girl, will appreciate the author’s ability to create a spine-chilling atmosphere from something as simple as an empty building late at night.

In Chloe, the author gives the reader an unflinching but always sensitively handled portrait of a troubled young woman. Chloe has always harboured ambitions to be an actress but, for the time being, has to make do with the role of usher at the now rather rundown Dean Wilson Theatre. Its glory has faded since the time the musical Dust premiered there, although the events of that night have given it a ghoulish notoriety. Now the shows it puts on are decidedly less iconic and more often than not play to sparse and not very appreciative audiences. (I suspect the author had a bit of fun inventing the shows. Please tell me the tribute act Pelvis Presley really exists.)

I did enjoy the depiction of the process of getting a show ready from initial read-throughs to set mock-ups and technical rehearsals, no doubt informed by the author’s own experience with the Hull Truck Theatre.

Alternating between the present day and fourteen years earlier, the reader sees a game involving Chloe and two teenage friends transform into something much darker. Although they do not know it then and will not fully realise it for many years, it will change the course of their lives forever. “We never forget. We choose not to remember.”

By the way, like those who stay at the end of a film to watch the credits roll in the hope of seeing a bonus scene or outtake, book bloggers who have taken part in tours for previous books by Louise will find a reward in her generous Acknowledgements section at the end of the book.

A skilfully crafted combination of crime mystery and ghost story, I Am Dust is an intensely atmospheric tale of ambition, obsession, desire and betrayal. 
Profile Image for Louisa Treger.
Author 3 books83 followers
March 4, 2020
I am a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing and have loved her previous books. Few novelists are as diverse, yet there are certain recognizable Louise Beech hallmarks. Glorious writing, for one. Also, she is a captivating storyteller with the power to draw you into her fictional world and to make you emotionally invested in her characters. I AM DUST is another triumph. Part ghost story, part murder-mystery, there are enough of twists and turns to keep you guessing, layers of meaning, and emotion humming through every page. I loved the theatrical setting complete with dust, hot lights, greasepaint smell, and ghostly echoes of the past. But I think my favourite thing of all is how well Louise depicts her characters’ emotional lives. I fell in love with Chloe - damaged yet so likeable, painfully learning her true power and trying to overcome her past. I AM DUST is an enthralling novel about magic, murder, secrets, and unrequited love. I can’t wait to see what Ms Beech comes up with next!
Profile Image for Thebooktrail.
1,643 reviews297 followers
February 13, 2020
i am dust

Visit the locations in the novel I am Dust

This book will give you all the tingles and more. The ethereal ghostly quality whispers at you from the very first page and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on edge. I was transported to a dark theatre, trapped backstage with the noises, the smell of greasepaint, the heat of the lights and the ghostly whispers of the past.

Just read this paragraph in particular and listen to your own voice:

‘I’m still here; I am dust,
I’m those fragments in the air,
the gold light dancing there,
that breeze from nowhere.’

Brrr does that not just light up your reading radar and have your head buzzing with anticipation? The opening chapters were like that feeling of being in an audience, waiting for the curtain to come up, the auditorium in darkness. Cleverly, the rest of the novel is staged in two parts. Like a Shakespearean tragedy about to unravel. Modern day, and the theatre is preparing for this iconic play to return. Usher Chloe was obsessed with it when younger and she and her friend Jess would sing the words, dream of being in a play and talk constantly about the legend. However, Chloe is a different, damaged woman. She hides away herself in the theatre, literally picking up the glitter, the dust of the play that has performed and then returns home when the curtain has brought an end to the evening.

Meanwhile, stage left, the story takes us back to a time when Chloe, Jess and a boy named Ryan were friends. Three friends who tempt fate with an ouija board. A harmless teenage prank? Or something that awakens those dark shadows in the back of an empty theatre…Talk about shivers up your spine! I was literally tingling with the sense of foreboding throughout.

As the curtain closes on one act and returns to the present, you get a real sense of how the past and present collide And collide they do.Will the murder of the actress ever be solved? Will her ghost ever be laid to rest? First we have Act one, Act two, the interval and then comes the all important epilogue…

I had an eerie orchestral score in my head for most of this. The sound of a theatre orchestra, hidden in the pit, its chilling sounds floating up and over the seats. For the finale, that ghostly curtain closed too and I was left sitting in a dusty, faded theatre, empty apart from me, the spirits of the characters and that faint music, still echoing around the auditorium.

This novel is a real theatrical experience. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Joanne Robertson.
1,363 reviews557 followers
December 20, 2019
Full review to follow when I can find the words but this book, although very different once again for Louise Beech, is absolutely breathtaking in the way it connects emotionally with its reader. Five stars all the way from me and the books of 2020 have a lot to live up to!
Profile Image for Fee (Ebook Addicts).
1,413 reviews43 followers
April 27, 2020
** edited to add review**

I think this is the first time where I am at a loss of how to review a book to do it justice. I really really enjoyed I Am Dust and was engrossed with it from the start. The story is told in duel timelines that intertwine flawlessly. The Dean Wilson Theatre is set to host the production of I Am Dust 20 years after it first took to the stage and also when tragedy struck, our main character Chole is working here as an Usher and she remembers seeing the play all those years ago with her mum when she was 10 years old. When the lead star Ginger arrives at the theatre it opens up memories for both of them. When the timeline switches to the past we find out that Chole, Ginger (who was known by Jess) and their friend Ryan did a Ouija board.

You can see where the story is going with the duel timelines making this a creepy paranormal tale that will give you chills, but I for one was not expecting the twist at the end! I never really saw that coming and it was just brilliant.

5 star read for sure
Profile Image for Jen.
1,317 reviews62 followers
January 2, 2020
Wow. What the heck was that? I don’t really know what I was expecting when I picked up I Am Dust, but it was not that. I’m one of those weird people who rarely reads blurbs for books, especially if they are by an author whose work I trust, and so I really was going into reading blind. I knew it was set around a theatre and that was about it. I certainly didn’t expect to be so caught up in the book that I read for six straight hours. It was the first book I have read in a long while where, no matter how tired I thought I was, the need to sleep was held entirely at bay until I had turned the last virtual page on my kindle. It was just one of those kinds of reads and now I am worried that I cannot find the words to do it justice.

This is the story of Chloe who works as an Usher in the Dean Wilson theatre, the theatre that was made famous by the extraordinarily ill-fated run of the new musical, Dust. The show never made it past its fourth performance when the show’s star was found dead in her dressing room. When it is announced that the musical will have a brand new run, starting at the theatre on the twentieth anniversary of its premiere, everyone is excited. Apart from Chloe. Although this was the very show that gave her the love of the theatre, there is something about the idea that worries her, a kind of premonition or sense of a bad omen surrounding the show. And boy is there ever.

Now I really don’t want to say too much more about the book as I think you really need to read it, to experience it, for yourself, but believe me when I say that for all the beauty and imagery that we know Louise Beech can bring to her novels, she has created something really special here. Something very different to the kinds of stories you are used to reading, but equally as emotional, impactful and absolutely absorbing as anything I have read by her.

I loved the setting of the theatre and, with her own experiences to hand, she has recreated that whole vibe of the backstage life perfectly. Most people are used to the glitz and glamour they see up on the stage, but having grown up in and around theatre myself, working in all manner of roles from appearing onstage, to working backstage helping dress the cast, and being up in the lighting box helping with spotlights and lighting cues, there was so much I recognised about the kinds of things that Louise Beech was describing. It made it feel so real. And the whole idea of a cursed or haunted theatre, whilst not entirely new as most old theatres have a legend or two attached to them about some tragic thesp or two, is given a whole new lease of life here, so to speak, with a story that will chill and excite in equal measure.

Louise Beech captures that whole ethereal vibe in the theatre perfectly. There is always an underlying tension in the story, a sense of something otherworldly, even when nothing much seems to be happening. And Chloe’s connection to it all is quite intense but it was exactly that which kept me glued to the page. And then you have the other side of the story, of Chloe’s past and her last summer with two friends at a summer Youth Theatre group. They are putting on a production of ‘The Scottish Play’, quite apt in the circumstances, but Chloe, along with Jess and Ryan, do far more than just tread the boards that summer and it is exactly what comes to inform the rest of the book in truly dramatic and skin crawling style. The intensity that the author packs into those pages, the eerie tension in every scene, as well as the fraught and strained relationship between the friends, is just sublime.

You do need to suspend disbelief I suppose in as much as this is a kind of ghost story. But it is a ghost story with a twist. It is a heady mixture without a doubt – part young adult story, part love story, part gothic ghostly styled murder mystery, and I loved it. 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.
Profile Image for Anne.
2,133 reviews1,055 followers
February 10, 2020
'I'm still here; I am dust,
I'm those fragments in the air,
the gold light dancing there,
that breeze from nowhere.'

I read I Am Dust over two days, cocooned on the sofa, under a fleecy throw, as Storm Ciara did its worst outside. This story is the perfect storm companion. I became so consumed by the characters and the haunting lyrical writing; I was transported to the shabby back rooms of a theatre that once knew glitter and glamour and now only knows dust.

Dust was the biggest musical of its time. Twenty years ago the Dean Wilson Theatre premiered the most exciting new production of the time. Lauded by critics and sold out every night, Dust has become something of a cult.
However, it's best known for the tragedy that happened during its run. Lead actress Morgan Miller was murdered in her dressing room during the interval. Dust was closed down. The writer became a recluse and it's rumoured that Morgan haunts the theatre.

Chloe Dee has been an usher at the Dean Wilson for six years. As a teenager, she dreamt of becoming an actress. She was part of the Youth Theatre, and she and her friend Jess were obsessed with the lyrics and legend of Dust.
Chloe hasn't heard from Jess, or their other friend Ryan for years. She barely remembers them. She's changed, she has the scars to prove it. She's a troubled woman who cycles to the theatre, picks up the glitter and then goes home.

It's twenty years since Morgan Miller died and Dust is returning. The theatre seems to take on a new life when it's announced that the show will return. The whole town is buzzing with anticipation. Who will take on Morgan's iconic role as Esme Black?

Louise Beech tells her story over two timelines. The present day, as the theatre starts to transform in anticipation of new customers, and back to 2005 when Chloe, Jess and Ryan create dust of their own. The gentle and clever interweaving of both stories is beautifully done, allowing the reader to find out more about the past and how it impacts the present.

It's hard to put I Am Dust into a specific genre. The mystery of Morgan's murder is begging to be solved, yet this is not just a crime thriller. This is also a ghost story, combined with a magical theme that sits perfectly in the drab, worn out setting of this once glorious theatre.
There are hints of Du Maurier and slivers of Susan Hill throughout this story; it's a contemporary story, littered with modern-day issues including broken families, mistrust, betrayal and thwarted love, yet the setting transports the reader back to the heyday of theatre; the greasepaint, the glamour, the splendour.

I Am Dust is such an apt title for this spine-chilling, yet emotionally charged story. The dust caused by repressed memories, hidden away in the corner of the mind; the dust from broken relationships; the dust created by broken promises and betrayal. There's also the dust that shines brightly when the stage lights are upon it; and none of the characters shine quite so brightly as Chloe. She's perfectly created; with flaws and difficulties that have been caused by the dust left by her past.

There's a tenderness to this author's writing that brings a lump to the throat, and the final scenes are heart-stopping in their beauty.

Louise Beech, I really don't think you will be picking up the glitter for much longer. This is perfect.
Profile Image for Sally Boocock.
940 reviews41 followers
December 28, 2019
A truly emotional rollercoaster of a book with exceptional characters. Told in flashbacks to 2005 and 2019 it tells the story of three friends who meet up to play a game in a theatre where a star was murdered 20years ago. Stunning descriptions, I felt I was actually in the theatre and could smell the dust. Brilliant concept for a book and so beautifully written. If you haven't read any of Louse Beeches book I thoroughly recommend you start now .
Profile Image for Ingstje.
671 reviews18 followers
April 11, 2020
I’m not very attracted to the supernatural, and the mention of witches, magic or ghosts in a novel makes me shiver horribly, and usually not how I want it to. But, newsflash!, this novel was able to enthrall me, and I really have to credit the wonderful author for being able to do so. I Am Dust is very, very different from the psychological thriller Call Me Stargirl, which was my first novel by this author and made me an instant fan, and is much more of a mix between mystery and teenage drama with a good dash of gothic, BUT it’s equally hard to put down and the ending was as heartbreaking as ever.

The story is told over two timelines, perfectly balancing scenes in the present and past. Both timelines keep you alert and I felt even more excited to see that links to the past gradually start to shimmer through in the present when Chloé starts to remember the game she played. For one or the other obscure reason – and believe me this novel is drenched in darkness and obscurity – Chloé doesn’t remember a lot about the time she spent with Jess and Ryan in 2005. I know I have a faulty memory at the best of times but that’s nothing compared to the big black hole in Chloé’s memory. When she hears that the musical Dust is being revived and especially when she sees who will be the lead actress who will have to tread in the footsteps of the murdered actress of the first show, it starts to jog her memory and little by little memories start to surface, unsettling memories, which might perhaps give an answer to the question why she has to wear long sleeves even at summer time and how it all ended between the three of them back in 2005 when they were such good friends and why they have no contact in the present.

I Am Dust is so much more than a ghost story, it is also a story of unrequited love, jealousy and betrayal. I really loved the atmosphere of the novel, the gloomy light of a few single candles, the board with its Welcome and Goodbye sign, the moving of the glass with the tip of their finger (or even without the use of their finger), the internal debate whether Chloe is some kind of a witch with special powers or not… but I was happy to find the story was also serving my appetite for a conventional story at the same time and the murder mystery and the issues at play between the three of them made it all the more addictive.

‘I’m still here; I am dust.
I’m those fragments in the air,
the gold light dancing there,
that breeze from nowhere.’

I’m not one for ghost stories but those words, lyrics actually from the musical in the book that plays such a huge role, are so beautiful. I loved that they were repeated often throughout the story so that I could read them over and over again.

In the end I felt nothing short of bereft and I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. I finally had the HUGELY surprising answer who killed Morgan Miller but even more than that I was caught in the emotional rollercoaster of Chloe, Jess and Ryan’s story because Louise Beech certainly knows how to write a hard-hitting ending. I had no idea I was so deep under its spell until I felt my heart bleed. I so wish I had discovered this author sooner and had listened to the words of praise from everyone from the start. Don’t be me, so just get one of her books, I’m sure they are all amazing. Ah, now let me read that poem one last time, it felt special before but even more special now that I finished it.
Profile Image for Cathy Ryan.
1,174 reviews64 followers
April 8, 2020
I Am Dust is a story of two halves which are brought together seamlessly as the story evolves—the events of 2005 and the impact they have on the present day. During that summer three friends and aspiring actors played a dangerous game, experimenting with an Ouija board, while rehearsing for their school production of Macbeth.

Out of the three Ryan was the driving force filled with need for wealth, Chloe was wary of dabbling in the unknown and Jess went along just because she fancied Ryan. Regardless of her reluctance, Chloe gradually realised something extraordinary about herself. They thought they knew what they were doing. They thought they were in control. Neither was true and they got way more than they bargained for.

Now Chloe is an usher at the Dean Wilson Theatre, those dark experiences from her teenage years long forgotten. The first show performed in the theatre was Dust, a musical starring Morgan Miller. During one of the early performances Morgan was murdered in her dressing room. The show was cancelled, the killer never caught. Dogged by that tragedy, the theatre never fully recovered and is said to be haunted by Morgan Miller. Now, twenty years later, Dust is to be revived—and strange things begin to happen to Chloe. Memories gradually surface from the traumatic events that became deeply buried in her subconscious.

The present timeline focuses on Chloe, a finely drawn character, as she works as an usher in the theatre. Physically and mentally scarred, she has suffered from blackouts for as long as she can remember, and is far removed from her teenage self, lacking in self belief and her ability to be anything other than someone in the shadows. The fragilility of her emotional state is clear.

Cloe’s friend and fellow usher Chester, brings humour and a lightening of tense atmosphere which offsets the darker elements. To add to the mix there’s greed, obsession, ambition, jealousy, all the angst that goes with unrequited love and the fact that getting what you believe is your heart’s desire doesn’t always bring happiness.

I Am Dust has all the elements I love in a book—it’s a psychological murder mystery/thriller set in a theatre. The excitement and sense of being there amid theatre life, front of house and backstage, is palpable. There is a magical and supernatural theme running through what could be classed in part as a ghost story, although it’s much, much more than that, and the imagery is vivid. The way the narrative is written makes it seem plausible, if terrifying.

It’s compelling, beautifully written and structured with a perfect balance between past and present, exuding atmosphere, tension and emotion, particularly in the final chapters.
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