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Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story

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Dusty Waters is a ghost story, a family saga, the history of a haunted house, and a biography of a folksinger. Dusty's friend, Katharine, has volunteered to help her write the official biography, but there is one piece of her life that will not be part of the biography, she can see ghosts; Dusty's ancestral home Tanglewood is filled with them. This inherited sight adds a v Dusty Waters is a ghost story, a family saga, the history of a haunted house, and a biography of a folksinger. Dusty's friend, Katharine, has volunteered to help her write the official biography, but there is one piece of her life that will not be part of the biography, she can see ghosts; Dusty's ancestral home Tanglewood is filled with them. This inherited sight adds a vexing dimension to her psyche that becomes an uneasy burden to live with, she feels compelled to escape in order to find peace. Dusty's life journey takes her from Tanglewood in Lyons, New York to New Orleans, Taos, New Mexico, and finally back to Tanglewood.


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Dusty Waters is a ghost story, a family saga, the history of a haunted house, and a biography of a folksinger. Dusty's friend, Katharine, has volunteered to help her write the official biography, but there is one piece of her life that will not be part of the biography, she can see ghosts; Dusty's ancestral home Tanglewood is filled with them. This inherited sight adds a v Dusty Waters is a ghost story, a family saga, the history of a haunted house, and a biography of a folksinger. Dusty's friend, Katharine, has volunteered to help her write the official biography, but there is one piece of her life that will not be part of the biography, she can see ghosts; Dusty's ancestral home Tanglewood is filled with them. This inherited sight adds a vexing dimension to her psyche that becomes an uneasy burden to live with, she feels compelled to escape in order to find peace. Dusty's life journey takes her from Tanglewood in Lyons, New York to New Orleans, Taos, New Mexico, and finally back to Tanglewood.

59 review for Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Marple

    Dusty Waters is a 5 star read. We meet Dusty in her 40s (I think?) and she is somewhat of a hippie in that she stands up against the government through her songs and her unashamed preaching. She is smart and has lived a life. Her childhood friend, Katharine, is writing a book about Dusty (now that Dusty is a famous folk singer) and "Dusty Waters: a ghost story" is a mixture of the interviews that Dusty and Katharine share, and the back stories that Dusty tells in first person narrative. Always i Dusty Waters is a 5 star read. We meet Dusty in her 40s (I think?) and she is somewhat of a hippie in that she stands up against the government through her songs and her unashamed preaching. She is smart and has lived a life. Her childhood friend, Katharine, is writing a book about Dusty (now that Dusty is a famous folk singer) and "Dusty Waters: a ghost story" is a mixture of the interviews that Dusty and Katharine share, and the back stories that Dusty tells in first person narrative. Always intense, realistic conversations, fully-body characters and I loved every one of them. Dusty sees dead people. No, not in a "Sixth Sense" sorta way, but just in that she can see the ghosts of people who have yet to move on with their "lives". Many of the dead will live the same last moments over and over again, dying over and over. Or some will wait in a certain place where they felt most comfortable in their living "life"... for someone, or something. Dusty sees these spirits- ever since she was a child (of about 4 years) and her father suddenly died of an anuerism at the breakfast table. After he died, she could still see her father sitting at the breakfast table for 3 years, until they moved back to a family heirloom of a house that got passed down from generation to generation. At the "new" house where Dusty's mother grew up, Dusty can see all of her ancestors trapped inside the house. But, it's not in a scary way. Some of them died brutal, mis-informed deaths, but none wished ill-will to Dusty. The ghosts were so trapped inside their own misery or solitude, that most didn't even notice that Dusty could see them. Dusty Waters is about self-discovery, trusting one's instincts, true love, growing up in war, losing family members, growing up, and being true to oneself. The only issue I had with the book was it seems to be marketed as a Ghost Story- as in a horror book. Even the cover art looks a little creepy. "Dusty Waters" has ghosts in it, sure, but it's not ABOUT the ghosts. It's so much more than that. If I could change anything about this book, it would be the cover and the marketing strategy. Because "Dusty Waters" is not scary... it's beautiful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    This is a darn good book, gifted to us by an accomplished storyteller. We're treated to an extremely satisfying array of characters, from the quiet, marred Asher, to raucous, sequined Dede; and guided by the quirky, gravel-voiced, 6 feet, 3 inch creator of Dusty Boots Records. I read fiction to be absorbed, to move into a house with people I don't know yet, to sit in the chairs in the parlor, or disappear into the library behind the secret panel and see the dust on the bookjackets and smell the a This is a darn good book, gifted to us by an accomplished storyteller. We're treated to an extremely satisfying array of characters, from the quiet, marred Asher, to raucous, sequined Dede; and guided by the quirky, gravel-voiced, 6 feet, 3 inch creator of Dusty Boots Records. I read fiction to be absorbed, to move into a house with people I don't know yet, to sit in the chairs in the parlor, or disappear into the library behind the secret panel and see the dust on the bookjackets and smell the air from the open window. I want to hear the creek bubbling past the brokedown willow, and taste the heat from the Taos desert. I want to smile, laugh, fear, suffer, love with the people on the page. Dusty Waters delivers. This is a memorable book. The plot devices are adroit, and there are admirably adept methods Ms. Ryan uses; how does a writer convey to the reader that it's hard to get a single message separated from a litany of ghosty memories? The way Laura does it. There are words and phrases that delight - "suchthings," and "nonstop raspberry." I'll read Dusty Waters again. Happily.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    this is a story about the lives and love of dusty waters. she is a folk singer with an attitude. but if you had lived through what she has i guess you would be the same! dusty can see and communicate with ghosts. this gift is found out when her dad tragically died one morning and never really left. After this the family move into Tanglewood(and mysterious mansionlike place) and with even more ghosts to keep dusy busy. This biography of Dusty and her life living at tanglewood is an intresting one. this is a story about the lives and love of dusty waters. she is a folk singer with an attitude. but if you had lived through what she has i guess you would be the same! dusty can see and communicate with ghosts. this gift is found out when her dad tragically died one morning and never really left. After this the family move into Tanglewood(and mysterious mansionlike place) and with even more ghosts to keep dusy busy. This biography of Dusty and her life living at tanglewood is an intresting one. reading this book you feel like the nosey neighbour peeking into her life...not alot of books can make you feel like you there and observing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Skinner

    I won a copy of "Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story" from the giveaway page. I loved this book! I was going into it expecting something really supernatural, focused on spirits/ghosts. Instead I read a beautiful story about living life. Dusty's ability to see ghosts is just a part of her, like being tall, or having curly hair. Dusty's voice carried me along on a gentle pace through the story of her life. I laughed, I cried, and I put the book down feeling better for having read it. I can't wait to pick it I won a copy of "Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story" from the giveaway page. I loved this book! I was going into it expecting something really supernatural, focused on spirits/ghosts. Instead I read a beautiful story about living life. Dusty's ability to see ghosts is just a part of her, like being tall, or having curly hair. Dusty's voice carried me along on a gentle pace through the story of her life. I laughed, I cried, and I put the book down feeling better for having read it. I can't wait to pick it back up and read it again!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    I can't believe how much I disliked this book. First off, I have never seen a book jacket so totally opposite than the book itself. This, in my opinion, was not a ghost story in the traditional sense of a ghost story..also it was written in just an unusual manner which I found after a bit became annoying. If I didn't have to finish this for a challenge, I wouldn't have. Also, this book was an example of why I prefer to get my books from libraries and such vs. purchasing them. I can't believe how much I disliked this book. First off, I have never seen a book jacket so totally opposite than the book itself. This, in my opinion, was not a ghost story in the traditional sense of a ghost story..also it was written in just an unusual manner which I found after a bit became annoying. If I didn't have to finish this for a challenge, I wouldn't have. Also, this book was an example of why I prefer to get my books from libraries and such vs. purchasing them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fred Wellner

    Although I'm partial (my wife wrote this book), it is an exceptionally good read. The style of story-telling is unique and first person. Characters are individuals with depth, a testament to the author's careful and extensive research. As much as it's a ghost story, it's also political, funny in the right places, and insightful into human nature. Read it. Enjoy it. :) Although I'm partial (my wife wrote this book), it is an exceptionally good read. The style of story-telling is unique and first person. Characters are individuals with depth, a testament to the author's careful and extensive research. As much as it's a ghost story, it's also political, funny in the right places, and insightful into human nature. Read it. Enjoy it. :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gwyneth Stewart

    This book, as several other review point out, is not a classic ghost story. It's more a novel with has several ghost characters. The main character, Dusty Waters, has been able to see ghosts since she was three years old and her father died suddenly (this isn't a spoiler, it happens in the first few pages). Her mother is left with 8 children to raise on her own. Before Dusty is school age, the family moves back to the house her mother grew up in. The house is a grand old monstrosity, hundreds of This book, as several other review point out, is not a classic ghost story. It's more a novel with has several ghost characters. The main character, Dusty Waters, has been able to see ghosts since she was three years old and her father died suddenly (this isn't a spoiler, it happens in the first few pages). Her mother is left with 8 children to raise on her own. Before Dusty is school age, the family moves back to the house her mother grew up in. The house is a grand old monstrosity, hundreds of years old, and located outside the town of Lyons, NY. Dusty's great aunt Mabel left it to Dusty's mother in her will. Great-aunt Mabel, and assorted other ancestors are still hanging around, but only Dusty can see them. For the most part, Dusty is not afraid of ghosts, though she learns not to tell anyone about them for fear of being thought crazy. The story takes place through the era of Nixon and the Viet Nam war, which greatly influence Dusty's view on life. She grows up to become a folk singer with strong political views. Most of the book takes place in Dusty's childhood. It is told partly through interviews with one of her best friends, who is writing Dusty's biography. The story telling can get a little confusing, as it is not linear. Dusty will tell a story that happened when she was 9, then one when she was 6, then one when she was a teen-ager. Occasionally I found myself flipping back a few pages to see when we were, but not too often. One thing that certainly attracted me to this story was the setting. Lyons NY is a real town about halfway between Geneva and Lake Ontario. The author talks about the drumlins (hills typical to that part of the world), and her descriptions of the woods Dusty and her friends played in felt very familiar to me, as I grew up not far away in a similar landscape. I also lived in a (potentially) creepy old house, though not nearly as big or as old or as creepy as Tanglewood. So, for me, reading this book was like taking a trip home.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Monique Day

    Dusty Waters is a book of many stories that help the reader to understand the development of Dusty Waters (the main character). This novel kept my attention the whole time because of all the stories and the bouncing back and forth between Dusty's interviews and her recollections of her past. The writing is detailed, funny, and unique. Ryan's prose is unlike any I have read before. The book brought me through a range of emotions from laughter to sadness to frustration to happiness. When a novel c Dusty Waters is a book of many stories that help the reader to understand the development of Dusty Waters (the main character). This novel kept my attention the whole time because of all the stories and the bouncing back and forth between Dusty's interviews and her recollections of her past. The writing is detailed, funny, and unique. Ryan's prose is unlike any I have read before. The book brought me through a range of emotions from laughter to sadness to frustration to happiness. When a novel can elicit true, strong emotions from me, I know I'm reading something not just good but great. I fell in love with the unique characters of Dusty and Emmett. Watching their story develop was sweet, enjoyable, and often took me by surprise. Plus, the ghost dimension was something that I had never seen in a novel before. It was an effective and unique device to access more stories that were pertinent to the overall plot as well as give background information on the setting of the novel as well as Dusty's abilities and experiences. The ghost aspect changed my perception of what a ghost story could be. An excellent writer will push the boundaries of what you think is possible in writing. Ryan did just that. Would I read this book again? Yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes. Will I read Ryan's other novel as well as those in the future? Definitely Most importantly, this book has impacted me. I continue to think about it even after I have finished it - another sign of an excellent piece of literature.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melinda the Town Crackpot📚

    Dusty Waters, A Ghost Story, is not a ghost story. It's a people story with ghosts on the sidelines. Dusty is a folksinger, who just happens to be able to see and communicate with ghosts. The book is about Dusty having her memoirs written by an old friend. That was interesting enough to make me immediately want to read this book. Sadly, for me, the result was rather boring. Imagine if Forrest Gump was female, and could see ghosts. Not that Dusty was challenged in any way other than her second si Dusty Waters, A Ghost Story, is not a ghost story. It's a people story with ghosts on the sidelines. Dusty is a folksinger, who just happens to be able to see and communicate with ghosts. The book is about Dusty having her memoirs written by an old friend. That was interesting enough to make me immediately want to read this book. Sadly, for me, the result was rather boring. Imagine if Forrest Gump was female, and could see ghosts. Not that Dusty was challenged in any way other than her second sight, but she was, like Forrest, overly calm and accepting of the ghosts around her. Kind of like "Ohhhh-Kaaay". A very ordinary story about an ordinary family. The settings and historical events that provided the backdrop for this growing girl and her family could have provided enough interest to save the book, but it simply failed. The historical family mansion, for example, complete with ghosts and hidden rooms should have provided lots of entertainment in itself, but because the ghosts were as ordinary as the living, and Dusty's reaction and interaction with them bordered on deadpan (no pun intended), there was no "hook". The characters were likeable enough, but once the book was closed, I did not feel drawn back to it. Pretty mediocre.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    I totally enjoyed this one and for so many different reasons. Laura's writing style is just really awesome and has a unique flow to it. She really managed to make the story feel intimate. 'Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story' was certainly a unique book. I initially got interested in this one because it was a "ghost" story, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, there are ghosts in the book, but I think this one really dug deeper. It really hits on the "ghosts" of our past and how they shap I totally enjoyed this one and for so many different reasons. Laura's writing style is just really awesome and has a unique flow to it. She really managed to make the story feel intimate. 'Dusty Waters: A Ghost Story' was certainly a unique book. I initially got interested in this one because it was a "ghost" story, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, there are ghosts in the book, but I think this one really dug deeper. It really hits on the "ghosts" of our past and how they shape the person we are today. I loved the sometimes nutty main character, Dusty, and the stories she told. They were each unique and again, I think it showed how the ghosts of our past affect the person today. I have to mention the format of the book because I really thought it was great. Each chapter starts out with a transcript of an interview done with Dusty while working on a biography...it then switches in to what I would call a flashback. Overall, I thought this one was enjoyable. No matter what kind of ghost story you're looking for you may just find it here. I'd call it a relaxed and easy-going book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Violet

    This book was kind of hard for me to rate. I gave it a four because of the excellent way the author developed the story. The book starts out with an interview for a biography aabout Dusty and goes back and forth between the interview and the life story of Dusty. The author manages to get a whole lot of life in this book, starting out with three year old Dusty seeing her fathers ghost after he dies at the kitchen table. The book touches on Vietnam and how her family was affected, Woodstock, not b This book was kind of hard for me to rate. I gave it a four because of the excellent way the author developed the story. The book starts out with an interview for a biography aabout Dusty and goes back and forth between the interview and the life story of Dusty. The author manages to get a whole lot of life in this book, starting out with three year old Dusty seeing her fathers ghost after he dies at the kitchen table. The book touches on Vietnam and how her family was affected, Woodstock, not being part of the in crowd at school, friendships, puberty, falling in love,religious beliefs and so much more. Why are ghosts where they are, what will send them on? Dusty even helped to give some ghosts peace so they could move on. And then there was Emmett who had a very special place in this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This book started out so well that I was captivated. I read it in 2 days. But about 2/3 of the way thru the book it fell apart for me. The story is about a woman retelling her life story to a friend, who is writing her biography. The young Dusty is so interesting and well created that I really liked her character. She sees ghosts throughout her life and she tells some of their stories, her interactions with them, and her own feelings about seeing them. But the grown up Dusty is a woman I did not li This book started out so well that I was captivated. I read it in 2 days. But about 2/3 of the way thru the book it fell apart for me. The story is about a woman retelling her life story to a friend, who is writing her biography. The young Dusty is so interesting and well created that I really liked her character. She sees ghosts throughout her life and she tells some of their stories, her interactions with them, and her own feelings about seeing them. But the grown up Dusty is a woman I did not like at all. The author seemed to use this character as a political platform and the language used when writing for the adult was just unnecessary. I could give this book 2 and 1/2 stars, but not 3...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    This was about about the life story of a fictional character named Dusty Waters , a folksinger. When her father died one morning at breakfast she saw and conversed with him at the breakfast table for the next three years. No one in her family believed she could see his ghost and called her crazy. When they moved into her Mother's ancestral home, she saw and heard family spirits. I liked the way the author wrote the story. Sprinkled through out the book, it was written as though Dusty was being This was about about the life story of a fictional character named Dusty Waters , a folksinger. When her father died one morning at breakfast she saw and conversed with him at the breakfast table for the next three years. No one in her family believed she could see his ghost and called her crazy. When they moved into her Mother's ancestral home, she saw and heard family spirits. I liked the way the author wrote the story. Sprinkled through out the book, it was written as though Dusty was being interviewed by the writer, Katherine, a friend. There was funny parts and sad parts like all stories, and she did a good job with the ending. An unexpected ending.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Oh my goodness. This was a terrible book. I thought it was going to be a ghost story (based on the title - duh!), but it turns out it was just an opportunity to rant about politics and "those crazy religious nuts". I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. If you are are solidly on the left, you might enjoy this book. Otherwise, steer clear from this one. It was so irritating because there were times that the story encouraged me to continue reading, and then I would get hit in the face wi Oh my goodness. This was a terrible book. I thought it was going to be a ghost story (based on the title - duh!), but it turns out it was just an opportunity to rant about politics and "those crazy religious nuts". I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. If you are are solidly on the left, you might enjoy this book. Otherwise, steer clear from this one. It was so irritating because there were times that the story encouraged me to continue reading, and then I would get hit in the face with the political rant all over again. Blech...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I'm a third of the way into this book and highly enjoying it. Dusty is giving an interview for her biography. As the story takes us back into her childhood, we have an highly independent and observant girl who is well aware of other peoples behavior and where she stands on a great many issues. Through her eyes we have a young girl seeing how the world issues can shape our lives without being able to stop it. As well as the story of Tanglewood, her family home and legacy. I'm a third of the way into this book and highly enjoying it. Dusty is giving an interview for her biography. As the story takes us back into her childhood, we have an highly independent and observant girl who is well aware of other peoples behavior and where she stands on a great many issues. Through her eyes we have a young girl seeing how the world issues can shape our lives without being able to stop it. As well as the story of Tanglewood, her family home and legacy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I went into this book expecting spooks and transparent figures that go bump in the night. Instead it's a nice book about a normal life and all the little things that go into a life. There were parts that had me not liking Dusty, but as a whole she was likable. There were a few times when spirits were involved that I cried. I like the evolution of Dusty as a person. It is a good book. I went into this book expecting spooks and transparent figures that go bump in the night. Instead it's a nice book about a normal life and all the little things that go into a life. There were parts that had me not liking Dusty, but as a whole she was likable. There were a few times when spirits were involved that I cried. I like the evolution of Dusty as a person. It is a good book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sue Gray

    This is not your traditional ghost story populated with chain rattling ghosts. These are ghosts (not past memories, but ghosts) of people from the main characters family that have passed and friends that have been lost. Her story is about how these ghosts shaped her life and how she is is able to help some and come to terms with he past.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I loved this book, but I love ghost stories - lol!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This was an interesting book...the language is not my preference and there is a lot of it...but it has a good storyline.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I won this on first reads. Probably because I believe that our loved ones are always around us, I really liked this one. It will be one I keep in my library forever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    It wasn't all that ghosty. It wasn't all that ghosty.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    the story was good. i could have done without the transcript format and the song lyrics. I liked dusty the best in her youth at tanglewood and after the "book" was in manuscript form. everything vame together in the end in a way which i think worked. the story was good. i could have done without the transcript format and the song lyrics. I liked dusty the best in her youth at tanglewood and after the "book" was in manuscript form. everything vame together in the end in a way which i think worked.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura J. W.

    Well, I've gone and done it...I have created an e-book...for now, exclusively for the B&N Nook. Same book as the paperback original, just as a Nook Book. Dusty Waters is a unique book, and I hope you enjoy her! Well, I've gone and done it...I have created an e-book...for now, exclusively for the B&N Nook. Same book as the paperback original, just as a Nook Book. Dusty Waters is a unique book, and I hope you enjoy her!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Boyce

    I couldn't get into this book, it just wasn't good at all. I couldn't get into this book, it just wasn't good at all.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Neveen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raenel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janet

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura J. W.

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  32. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  33. 4 out of 5

    Judith

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Defoy

  35. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  36. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

  37. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  38. 5 out of 5

    Rae-Ann

  39. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  41. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

  42. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

  43. 5 out of 5

    Elise

  44. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  45. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

  46. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  47. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  48. 5 out of 5

    GracieKat

  49. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  50. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  51. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  52. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  53. 4 out of 5

    Shawna Millard

  54. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  55. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

  56. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  57. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Rae Baker

  58. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  59. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

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