The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
When I read it: March 2015
Genres: historical fiction; sci-fi; fantasy; YA-ish?
Recommended for: People who like puzzles, strange books, short stories/novellas that are all part of the same larger story, and are ok with maybe not getting all the answers to their questions.
What it’s about:
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 book was so strange to read, and I actually never figured out how to review it because of that (oops). There’s historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and I’m not even sure what else, and the way they’re blended together is amazing, in my opinion. I think this book got mixed reviews, and I can absolutely see why. This isn’t a book everyone is going to love, but I was lucky enough to be one of the people who did love it. The format allows you to read the four stories in any order you choose, but I read it straight through the first time. Next time I read it (oh yeah, this is a book I’m probably going to re-read many times, until I figure it all out), I’m picking a different order.
It’s a really weird book, it isn’t for everyone, and maybe I’ll hate it the next time I read it. If kinda-trippy-and-mind-bending is what you’re looking for, maybe check this out. To quote or paraphrase pretty much everyone who’s read this book and liked it, “Fucking spirals, man. Spirals everywhere.”