A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
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…
I love this series and I think that Deity shows Matt Wesolowski at his best. As with the previous novels in the Six Stories series, the podcast format works brilliantly with Scott King interviewing six separate guests to gain six different opinions of the much loved but deeply controversial figure of global megastar, Zach Crystal. Throughout, Scott remains neutral – outwardly, at least – which gives the reader the opportunity to form their own opinion about the enigmatic Crystal. It’s an opportunity to play detective which I absolutely love, but also an exercise in forming one’s own opinion, sifting out the truth from the separate interviews and not necessarily taking everything at face value however convincing the views given.
Deity touches upon some very current concerns, including the #MeToo movement, the celebrities who use their fame, power, and wealth to act out their perversions, and whether it’s possible to separate the art from the artist in the case of controversial individuals. And Zach Crystal is certainly that. Wesolowski has created a superstar – world-famous and yet intensely private – leading to a significant amount of speculation about his private life, particularly after accusations of abuse from multiple women in the wake of #MeToo.
And therein lies the crux of the novel – is Zach Crystal guilty, or is he wrongly accused and misunderstood? The six episodes work brilliantly to keep the reader guessing as to the truth of the matter, with opinions from those staunchly opposed to him as well as his fans and those who were in his private circle. Throughout, I wasn’t sure which side of the coin we’d land on – I had my own theory, of course – but Wesolowski hast written the novel in such a way that it’s difficult to say definitively until the final episode. It’s a fantastic concept and brilliantly executed.
Crystal himself comes across as a surprisingly sympathetic individual. Now deceased, he’s unable to defend himself, and yet we do “hear” from him directly, as the six episodes are interspersed with Crystal’s final televised interview. Crystal comes across very well in this, appearing humble despite his fame, and playing up his background of relative frugality until he and his sister began to perform, with Zach later striking out on his own. It’s the kind of rags to riches story that people love, and Zach successfully casts himself as a poor, misunderstood individual who the media have taken against. It adds that extra seed of doubt in the reader’s mind.
Being a Matt Wesolowski novel, there’s more to the narrative than a simple did he / didn’t he as the author brings a supernatural element to the plot that bridges the gap between mystery and horror brilliantly. As ever, this aspect of the novel – inspired by Scottish folklore – is handled deftly and it adds a sense of foreboding to the novel that’s guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine. I love this element of Wesolowski’s novels – I think it sets them apart from the other, similar (if such a thing exists) novels, adding an extra, creepy edge to the tale.
I can’t recommend this series enough. Each instalment has been absolutely fantastic, and while my favourite is still – marginally – Hydra, this is a very welcome addition to the Six Stories series.
Deity is published by Orenda Books and is available now in eBook with the paperback scheduled for release in February.
The Six Stories series: