Book Review: Deity – Matt Wesolowski

Deity by Matt Wesolowski, part of the Six Stories series

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

About The Book

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

My Review

Regular readers will know that I am huge fan of the Six Stories series of books by Matt Wesolowski. They’re such clever and inventive novels and I have been impatiently waiting for the fifth instalment; Deity. Following the same format as the previous four novels, Deity is written in a podcast style with the host, Scott King, an online journalist, re-opening a cold case to try and find out what really happened.

Deity takes us to the wilds of Scotland, to the fictional Crystal Forest, a remote and wild place near the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands. Home to pop megastar Zach Crystal, it was a fairytale place with a huge mansion, guest wing, spa and beautiful two story tree house. He lived there, wrote his music there and tragically died in a fire there. He was embroiled in rumours about his lifestyle, particularly surrounding the invitations he extended to teenage girls to come and visit him at his house, rumours which haven’t died away since his death. His legions of fans protest his innocence, telling anybody who will listen that there was nothing untowards in his behaviour and that he chose to help young girls who came from deprived or difficult backgrounds, offering them emotional and financial support. But mud sticks, and Scott King wants to try and find out just what Zach Crystal was up to.

The book opens with a quote from Marilyn Manson, a man who has recently been in the press for disturbing behaviour against women and a man who has been dogged by rumours for years. There are certainly similarities between Zach Crystal and Marilyn Manson, with the former dressing in long cloaks, headdresses made of thorns and creating a persona which makes him an enigma. He is the archetypal front man; enigmatic, can hold hold stadia in his thrall and exuding confidence when on stage, belting out songs which connect with his audience, making those listening feel like this song was written just for them, that this singer is inside their brain and speaking to them.

Wesolowski delves deep into the connection between singer and fan, using a transcript of a TV show appearance to show how intense this can be. Members of the audience become overwhelmed, when they scream so loudly the interviewer can’t be heard Zach holds a hand up to silence them and the interviewer herself is a fan, veering away from journalistic impartiality. It is this interview where we hear from Zach himself, finding out what makes him tick and seeing for ourselves his power and magnetism. His fans are dedicated to him, in the early days of his career flooding MySpace with chat about him and more latterly internet forums and Reddit. Conspiracy theories abound and YouTube stars dedicate time to taking down the people who have accused him of abuse; revealing their details online, finding old photos of them on the internet that ‘prove’ they were asking for it and ruining people’s lives.

There is nothing glamorous about this celebrities life and legacy. In fact, it sounded sad and depressing. Living in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a forest with gullies and ravines and caves which hold secrets. Local folklore says that there there is a strange being which haunts the area, something which Zach becomes obsessed with.

This book holds a mirror up to the notion of celebrity and the way behaviour is excused due to their fame. It makes for uncomfortable and dark reading but is incredibly well-written and Wesolowski has really hit his stride in Deity and is his best yet. If you are new to the Six Stories series Deity can be read as a standalone but be warned there are references to a couple of the other books in there. To be honest though, going back and starting with Six Stories would be something you wouldn’t regret.

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book.

Deity by Matt Wesolowski is out now in ebook and out today in paperback.

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