Book Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Title – Author: The Ghosts of Heaven – Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Format – Source: e-ARC – Publisher via NetGalley

A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick’s gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession. (via Goodreads)

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I’m going to start off by saying this isn’t a book for everyone. I have a feeling it will be pretty polarizing in the reviews: you either hate it or love it. When I started the first story about the cave girl, I thought I was going to be in the former group. This story is told in verse, and I’m really not a fan (personal preference here, I know some people love to read that style of writing). But then suddenly I realized I was invested. This girl, though she lives in a simple world, dreams of something bigger.

I had another moment when I thought I wasn’t going to want to continue but was then immediately proven wrong. Starting the second story, I felt a kind of whiplash. The storytelling style was so different and all the characters were completely new that the transition felt a little jarring. But then I realized I was just as invested in the witch burning story as I was in the first story. You begin to see the common threads though as spirals weave themselves throughout all four stories. There are also little easter eggs in each story the stories that refer to the other stories in the book. It’s a bold and unique way of telling a story and I found myself really enjoying it. This book is unlike any I’ve read before.

My favorite story was the final one, which takes place on a spaceship in the future. This really illuminated for me why the GR summary says Sedgwick has a gift for suspense. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what the hell was going on during this voyage that was supposed to be a cakewalk.

It’s been days since I’ve read it and I’m still not sure I understand. I keep going over things in my mind and wondering about what happens after the final chapter. I couldn’t put it down, and yet I also wasn’t able to fully connect with any of the characters. This is definitely one that’s made me feel conflicted. I know I liked it, but I can’t quite explain it.


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With unique storytelling and a high concept narrative, The Ghosts of Heaven is sure to be a story you won’t forget any time soon.

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6 – good but doesn’t have that wow factor – Mrs. Figg



3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

  1. Love the new rating system! 😀
    It’s cool to know that there are contemporary books written in verse (I thought that was literally unheard of). Having never read an actual book that was written in verse (apart from Shakespeare, but that dude’s in his own league) I look forward to getting my hands on this. Thanks for writing such a promising review!

  2. I posted my review yesterday and I had a lot of the same feelings you do. The writing was beautiful and there was so much symbolism and imagery, but I just couldn’t connect to the story. Despite that I still found myself thinking about the book days later, so something about it just stayed with me. I just can’t quite explain it.

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