Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Release date: January 6, 2015
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
The Ghosts of Heaven is a remarkable book. It's so unlike any other young adult book I've read and one that will remain prominent in my memory for a long time. Using four very different, yet somehow connected, stories, Sedgwick weaves universal threads into a narrative that tells so much more than it says.

Each story is vastly different from the next, and at first it's terribly difficult to see how they are connected, aside from the characters' interest in spirals. But as the stories go on, for me, overarching ideas come through very clearly. At the same time, each reader will certainly draw their own conclusions. 

Though at times difficult to read, each story stands out in its own light. I'm not a big verse reader, but the opening story was striking in the simplicity of its writing and I can't say any other style would suit it better. The rest are straightforwardly written, but call attention to certain things in their own way. Marcus Sedwick has a wonderful style.

While I'm afraid many who read solely young adult won't take to The Ghosts of Heaven the way they could, it's a book I wholeheartedly recommend for its complexities and its ability truly to make you think, such a rarity.

About the author:

MARCUS SEDGWICK was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now divides his time between a small village near Cambridge, England, and a remote house in the French Alps.

Alongside a 16 year career in publishing he established himself as a widely-admired writer of YA fiction; he is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Michael L. Printz Award for 2014, for his novel Midwinterblood.

His books have been shortlisted for over thirty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (five times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times). In 2011 Revolver was awarded a Printz Honor.

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