A Tales Before Bedtime Sunday Review
Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection. You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds. Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive. It’s a truly wonderful feeling. One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced. Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful. I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.
There were three things that sold this novel to me.
The author. The publisher. The synopsis.
Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too. I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD. And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.
The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.
In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endless fears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.
Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.
Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.
Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.
Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…
‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.
Stella, this will tell you everything.
How did they know what I wanted to know?
What was everything?
I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.
“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.
Who was I trying to convince?
I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.
I did that night too.
But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.
It was two weeks before they found the girl there.
Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.
I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’
About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. the follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.
Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.
Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.