I Am Dust is the first book by Louise Beech that I’ve read and it likely won’t be the last. The story revolves around the Dean Wilson Theatre, a popular and well-known theatre that is supposedly haunted by a long-dead actress who was murdered. As with all ghost stories with this sort of story, she is thought to wander around the theatre looking for her killer, all whilst singing the last song she ever sung in life.
Flash forwards 20 years and the theatre is putting on a production of ‘Dust’, a musical which was last performed when an actress who played Esme Black was murdered. See where we’re going with this?
Needless to say, eerie things start happening around the production. Did someone else see that? Did someone else hear that? Or are these spooky goings-on just imagination?
I Am Dust is a book that doesn’t feel like it 100% knows what it wants to be. It’s part ghost story (obviously), part crime investigation fiction and part thriller story. I’m not saying that it’s confusing; I just wish it picked 2 of these genres, especially because it reads like a YA novel at times, which it’s not intending to do as this is marketed as an adult novel.
The narrative moved between settings and timelines quite seamlessly and it held my attention rather well. However I will say that when I put it down I didn’t find myself desperate to pick it back up again. That being said, it did pick up at about the 60% mark and it really came into itself.
The pacing might have a few issues but the writing is excellent. There were some amazing descriptive passages and it was really easy to visualise what was happening.
I had a few issues with some of the characterisation, mostly with Chloe. I think she reads as much younger than she is probably intended to. Perhaps that’s why I felt that this book read as a YA book at times. But it wasn’t a major issue, especially because the other characters were believable.
I really enjoyed the mystery and all the occult stuff; I’m a girl who appreciates a good Ouija board scene in a book/movie. There’s a sense of dread throughout the novel and it’s sustained pretty well. It makes for a really enjoyable spooky read with some dark moments. I actually think the atmosphere was better executed than the plot at times.
I reckon that I Am Dust would make a pretty good movie adaptation thinking about it.
I would recommend this book to theatre lovers and those who want a spooky read that isn’t too intense on the horror side of things.
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