Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review: The Ghosts of Heaven

Title: The Ghosts of Heaven

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Publication date: January 2015

Pages: 360

The Ghosts of Heaven weaves together four tales that span the beginning of man to our future and back, bound and connected by spirals. From prehistory when a girl is making the first written signs, to the death of a young woman the townsfolk call a witch, to a twentieth century asylum wherein a doctor learns the dark secrets of the sea, all the way to a far and distant future, where an astronaut holds the fate of mankind in his hands.

I fell in love with this book from the very first quarter, which is told in free verse from the point of view of a young woman during the dawn of man. She is drawn to the spiral that she sees in so many places, from the shell of a snail to the flight of a falcon, and as she finally begins to understand the symbol she’s become obsessed with, we’re on to another story. Each one evokes a different feeling in me. In the introduction, Marcus Sedgwick says the stories can be read in any order. I read them in the order they’re presented, but I’m going to go back and read them differently to see how it changes. 

This book is haunting and thought provoking. While the idea could have felt a little pretentious (spirals, mysticism, how spooky), the execution was, I thought, really well done. I got really attached to each of the characters, and it was beautiful to see how they all began to see and feel the same things, even separated by so much time. But that’s the point, really, is that time is not as linear as we think, and when we come back around we’re just a little bit deeper into the mystery.

It’s really hard to explain this book. It made me feel so much joy and so much sadness, and I couldn’t put it down as soon as I started. Despite the very individual nature of each of these narratives and how personal they felt (and, in some cases, how tragically they ended), it made even me as a reader feel connected to something so much bigger than myself. I would love to hear what you all think.

Happy reading!


Want to check out The Ghosts of Heaven? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!