Thursday, 6 August 2015

Book Review : Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

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

This is my first Marcus Sedgwick book. I have heard of this author from Peruse Project's YouTube feed. She loves his books and I tend to like quite a few books she recommends so I wanted to pick up a book by him. The synopsis of Ghosts of Heaven intrigued me to say the least. Being able to read the 4 stories contained within this book and it making sense - I wanted to see how it worked. I mean its like one of those children's books where you start a story randomly form any page and it works. This book held another attraction for me - Spirals. I had read a manga called Uzumaki (meaning spiral) by Junji Ito. It was one of the creepiest and scariest manga that I had read, so I was intrigued to see how Sedgwick incorporated it in the story/stories.

It has only been an hour since I read the book and I do not think I'll ever fully know how I felt about the book. I cannot clearly tell someone if I loved the book or hated it. I decided to read it like any other book, from start to finish. I sped through the 1st story, partly because it was written in prose. The other 3 were not. The 1st story is I believe based sometime in our past when our ancestors were still cavemen. It follows a girl who wants to be the shaman (for the lack of another word) for her tribe. The 2nd is sometime in the middle ages I guess when the Witch trials were dwindling down. The protagonist of this story is a young girl who gets persecuted as a witch. The 3rd story I think is in the early 20th century and is about a doctor who has just moved to a new Insane Asylum as an assistant superintendent and befriends an inmate. The final story is set somewhere way ahead in our future and Mankind has decided to take to the heavens to find another home. Here the main protagonist is a man who is in charge of the maintenance of the ship while everyone hibernates.

When I started reading the book I just could not see how the stories could be connected at all. It just seemed that the only thing connecting them was the obsessions of the protagonists of the spiral form, but that was not the main focus. Especially in the first 2 stories. It is only in the 3rd and 4th story that you start to see why Spirals play an important role.  After having read the book I think the order in which someone who is planning on reading this book would be to at least start with the 4th story first. It will probably make a little more sense to you. 

I am looking forward to picking up another book by Marcus Sedgwick. The sories and the way he writes are both amazing. This book would have worked as a collection of Novellas/short stories too. The stories are awesome as a standalone. I would rate this book a 3.8 or a 4.

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