I Am Dust by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks | #IAmDust #recommended

Author : Louise Beech
Title : I Am Dust
Pages : 340
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 16, 2020 (ebook)

| 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 THOUGHTS |

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 right there on the stunning jacket of my proof copy. (Which I just realised you can’t see on the cover I used on top of the page)

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”.

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the stunning review copy!

I Am Dust will be published in ebook format on February 16th, with the UK paperback to follow in April.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (December 4)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

England, 1917 

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable. 

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Someone is lying. 

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | @RuthWareWriter @HarvillSecker | #20BooksofSummer

Author : Ruth Ware
Title : The Turn of the Key
Pages : 340
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Publication date : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Ruth Ware’s previous book, The Death of Mrs Westaway, was one of my top books last year. So to say I had high expectations for her next offering would be somewhat of an understatement. I couldn’t wait to pick up The Turn of the Key and as soon as I started reading, I just knew this one was going to be another extra special treat.

Rowan Caine answered an ad for a nanny position in the Scottish Highlands. But it’s obvious from the start that things did not go well. A child is dead and Rowan is in prison awaiting trial for murder. What on earth happened and how did Rowan get here?

Oh, what a twisted tale this is. I feel like I didn’t breathe for 340 pages, it’s that tense. The modern gadgetry alone already freaked me out, never mind all the shenanigans that could possibly be caused by ghosts because hey, isolated house in a remote location where a death or two has occurred , it’s bound to be haunted, right? Hugely atmospheric? Check! I mean, there’s even a poison garden! Yikes! And what of Rowan? Reliable narrator or not? I couldn’t quite decide for most of the story and yet, at every turn, I found myself firmly on her side.

Creepy and chilling throughout, I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened and the conclusion left me reeling. Or at least my interpretation of it, which obviously means you should read this novel right now so we can discuss it! Wow. I mean, really, just WOW. I absolutely devoured this novel and as tends to happen with books I loved as much as this one, the words to describe my experience with it just will not come. Also because I’m way too worried I’ll give anything away.

Brilliantly written, immensely engrossing, extremely addictive …. WOW! 😉 This is most definitely Ruth Ware at her best and I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, because did I mention how utterly brilliant The Death of Mrs Westaway was? The Turn of the Key, you guys, is even better and it shoots right up my list of favourite books of the year! I’ll be recommending this one left, right and centre until I’m blue in the face and I am already eagerly awaiting Ruth Ware’s next book.

The Turn of The Key is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 17 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday | @SJIHolliday @orendabooks @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #TheLingering #RandomThingsTours #recommended

I’m absolutely delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Lingering by SJI Holliday today! Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the fabulous review copy!

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Author : SJI Holliday
Title : The Lingering
Pages : 300
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 15, 2018 (ebook) | November 15, 2018 (paperback)

aboutthebook

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

mythoughts

I don’t normally read scary stories because I’m a big fat wuss and I was slightly worried, that just like with scary movies, I’d be hiding behind my sofa or have my face buried in a pillow which would make reading rather difficult. Luckily though, I wouldn’t quite label this one as a scary read. Creepy? Absolutely! Chilling? Right to the bone!

The Lingering oozes atmosphere from the very first page, almost like a movie scene. Driving a car down a driveway, seeing a house loom up in front of you for the first time. Not just any house though for this place used to be a mental asylum and if there’s any setting more exciting than that one, I haven’t discovered it yet. Who knows what secrets are hidden in the walls and the shadows?

Married couple Jack and Ali leave behind everything they’ve ever known to move into Rosalind House and be part of a commune. It’s relatively obvious from the start that all is not well with these two. Their arrival at Rosalind House sets in motion a series of unexplained events. But who or what is responsible? Obviously I can’t tell you that but I will say this is one tense, suspenseful and thrilling ride. I wasn’t at all sure of the outcome, couldn’t see how things would end up but found the conclusion absolutely satisfying.

Part domestic thriller, past ghost story The Lingering had me absolutely hooked. Talk about a gripping read, hoo boy! I couldn’t get a feel for any of the characters at all which just added to this sense of unease that I found quite hard to let go of, even hours after finishing the book. On top of that, we are treated to diary chapters written by a doctor who used to work at the psychiatric institution and in an odd sort of way, those frightened me more than anything because they felt incredibly realistic and believable in showing what human beings are capable of.

The Lingering is one dark and disturbing read. With a brilliantly executed plot and complex characters, this haunting tale will linger (see what I did there?) in your mind for days. I have no doubt you’ll see this one pop up near the end of the year on my list of books of 2018.

PS : Do not read in the bathtub. You’ll thank me later.

The Lingering is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk andThe Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December.

Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls and has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’

She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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