- Call Me Star Girl.
- Louise Beech.
- 300 pages.
- Thriller / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
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 Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes you read a book and upon finishing you just know that you have read something that is extra special. That no matter what words you write, that you can assemble, you will fail and you won’t do the book justice. Before I started Call Me Star Girl I’d read two such books this year, One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence and A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher. Now, I’ve read three and you can add Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech to the list.
This is my review for Call Me Star Girl, these are my words, they are the best that I have…
Stella McKeever is a radio host for her local community radio station, tonight is her final show, the theme of the show, the topic that she has chosen, secrets. Stella invites her listeners to share their secrets and in-return she will share hers too, an exchange, a trade, a secret for a secret. It is a time for secrets, for the truth and for locked doors to be opened. It’s like a witching hour, a special time for things that are hidden, that have been buried to be unearthed, to be revealed and a time for endings. In the claustrophobic confines of the radio station, the four walls of the studio, a gateway, many secrets come out, Stella lays herself bare to her listeners. There’s a tension, a disquiet, an unease to the theme, what could be revealed? Once revealed secrets can never be locked away again.
There is also a killer somewhere out there, three weeks ago the heavily pregnant Victoria Valbon was murdered near to the radio station where Stella works, the murderer, the killer, is still on the loose.
Since the murder of Victoria, there has been a man who rings the radio station, who has rung in multiple times on Stella’s show and who claims to know more about Victoria’s death, hinting, offering cryptic clues about what really happened to Victoria, about that night.
Someone, a nameless person, an unknown person also left Stella a book at the radio station during one of her shifts with a note saying “Stella, this will tell you everything“.
Stella never knew her father and Elizabeth, her mother, wasn’t the best, wasn’t maternal, wasn’t the most loving or the most caring and said things to Stella as a child that have resonated into her adulthood, that have never faded, that have been held in memory, that have left an impression, an imprint and have had a lasting impact upon Stella making her who she is today before finally abandoning her when she was twelve-years-old. Leaving Stella with her next-door neighbour, a letter and a perfume bottle with a star-shaped topper to remember her by only returning out of the blue fourteen years later.
Stars are important throughout Call me Star Girl, important to Stella, her name means ‘star’ and they hold great significance to her, she is always looking out at the stars, when they shine, it is calming, comforting to her, she finds solace in them and when they are obscured, it is an omen, a portent, an ominous feeling of things to come. The perfume bottle, the star-shaped topper is a totem for Stella, something to hold on to, an inanimate object that holds great meaning, that holds great power, that evokes memories, of a different time, of a different place, of a younger Stella and of her mother. It was the only thing that her mother left her, it is one of Stella’s prized possessions, the smell of the scent, that brings Stella comfort, that offers her succour, that can take her back.
Call me Star Girl is made up of chapters with Stella in the ‘now’ that focus on her final night at the radio station, with Stella in the ‘then’ that focus on her back when she was younger, with Stella and Tom, her boyfriend that focus on their intense relationship, Tom who has dark tastes and Stella who allows him to do things that others would shy away from and say no to at around the time that Victoria Valbon was killed and with chapters in both the ‘then’ and the ‘now’ that focus on Elizabeth. There are also a few important chapters from the perspective of a taxi driver added to the mix.
With each new chapter, you can see something new being added to the fabric of the story, of the characters, like a patchwork quilt, stitched together, woven into place and made whole.
Many of the chapters in Call Me Star Girl end with a hook, reaching out and pulling you back for that stereotypical ‘one more chapter‘ phrase but for Call Me Star Girl it isn’t just an overused phrase, it is true. Beech baits her lines with a glimmer, a glimpse, a tantalising taste of a reveal and casts them out, hooking the reader and that ‘one for chapter‘ soon turns into far more as you find yourself devouring the pages in search of answers, secrets and the truth.
The setting of the empty (apart from Stella) radio station is very intimate, giving a close feel to the surroundings and the story. In the station, Stella is isolated from the outside world, alone, just her in the room with the airwaves, the radio equipment, the songs, the phone, her listeners and her thoughts. Alone in the studio, sounds and silence are amplified, sometimes a deafening silence, sometimes a creaking floorboard, a door hinge squeaking, a footstep, a sound from an unknown source
There’s something atmospheric and haunting about the story, something that prickles at the back of your neck and particularly in the sections that take place in the radio station you will find yourself questioning the noises that you hear whilst reading.
Call Me Star Girl has a quiet intensity to it and it is a slow-burn of a book, one that takes its time, one that allows its characters and its story time to build and time to develop and it is all the better for it. The characterisation by Beech is exquisite, the tension is ramped up throughout and the story itself is deep, layered, sad, gut-wrenching and powerful.
With Call Me Star Girl Beech has created a captivating and chilling story. It is a story that will thaw the ice in the veins, that will thaw the coldest of frozen hearts, a dark story but it is a darkness that is infused with heart. There is a beauty to the way that Beech writes, a beauty that is found within the darkness and one that contains an emotional undercurrent. Her words ebb and flow, waxing and waning like a candle flame, flickering, caught in a breeze. There’s something evocative and poetic about both her writing and her way with words. Something alluring, something hypnotic, casting you under her spell, charming you, drawing you in, grabbing you and ultimately pulling you under before allowing you to resurface changed at the end of the book.
There are many layers to the story in Call Me Star Girl, many emotions too, that fall, that cascade like rain, pulling you one way and then another, twisting and turning with the story.
Call Me Star Girl isn’t just a story about secrets, neither is it just a story about uncovering a killer. It’s a story about bonds, about family, about the ties that bind, that are severed, that are reconnected. It’s a story about abandonment, about desire, about love, about loss, about those who are most important to you and it is a story about the relationship between a daughter and her mother.
With the high quality of the writing, the deep characterisation and sense of atmosphere that are on display and the dark yet moving story that lingers, that leaves an echo upon the reader Call Me Star Girl shines brightly as one of the best books you will read this year.
Purchase Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech.
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