Review of Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

GhostsofHeaven1Ghosts of Heaven
By: Marcus Sedgwick
Release Date:Β January 6th 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
As other reviewers have pointed out this book is very difficult to rate and review. Sedgwick takes his reader on four different journeys which all share a common thread. I loved the idea behind the book and Sedgwick’s writing was beautiful as always.

The first story was my least favorite and this was probably because it was written in verse. I’ve not had luck with verse because I find it nearly impossible to connect to the characters. It was written well and was easy to read but I didn’t have the emotional response I’d have preferred. If you enjoy verse I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. The second story was an easier read for me but I was a tad underwhelmed with the storyline. This one centered around a young woman being accused of witch craft. I felt the story was a bit predictable. The writing was crisp and beautiful but it wasn’t enough to really have me love this story.

The last two stories turned the tide for me though. I found them both to be mesmerizing. The third story centers around a hospital for the mentally ill. I absolutely loved the storyline and main character. It was sufficiently creepy, fast paced and really beautifully done. The last story kept that momentum but turned the story to space. This one was so imaginative, horrifying and breathtaking. I want Sedgwick to write a full length book centered in space (has he done this yet?Β If so let me know!) Everything about the last story was amazing. It’s a must read even if it’s the only story you read from the book.

So, how do I rate this book since two stories fell flat but the other two were incredibly strong? I’d say try the first two but if they don’t grab you read the last two. I am eager to read more from Sedgwick since I’ve only read this and She Is Not Invisible.

Final Thoughts:
Though the first two stories weren’t hits for me the last two makes this book worth owning. Each story was well done but the last two were breathtaking in their originality, elegant prose and haunting storyline. Once again I’m blown away with Sedgwick’s ability to construct a story and add his unique voice to all sorts of genres.


  1. says

    Oh, i didn’t know there was 4 stories in this book. i was drawn in by the cover. Now that i know about the different stories, i’m gonna wait to read it. I agree with you on how it’s hard to rate something like this because really it’s four different books.

    Good review!

    • says

      awww, I’m sad that my review got you thinking it wouldn’t be for you. Have you read Sedgwick’s work before? this was my second of his and I’m going to be reading more since his writing is so beautifully done.

  2. says

    My fave stories were the first and the last! And I agree, I’d love Mr Sedgwick to write a full science fiction novel if he hasn’t done so yet!
    I need to read Midwintersblood next!
    Great review Kristen!

  3. says

    I saw a preview of the first part of this book recently and noticed it was written in verse. Verse is a big no-no for me as I can’t connect with either, like you said. But I might still check this one out if only for the last two stories.

    • says

      The first story was fairly short and of all the verse I’ve read (two other books)- I preferred this one. I hope if you do read you enjoy the other stories.

  4. says

    Hmmm, this sounds interesting! I usually find Sedgwick really readable, even if I’m not a big fan of the genre, so I should definitely try this.

  5. says

    Amazing review Kristen. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this, despite not loving it πŸ™‚ It was three stars for me too, though the other stories for me, lol. I liked story one, but like you, didn't like the verse thingy :p I liked story two the most, but hated how it ended. Sigh. I liked story three as well, but hated story four :p It was just too boring. I need more characters and more action in space, lol πŸ˜€ But so glad you enjoyed it so much. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie πŸ™‚

  6. says

    I have the five chapter sampler and I still haven’t gotten to it, although I would really love to. It didn’t appear to be too many reader’s cup of tea, but it sounds just quirky enough to be something I might love. Thanks for the review. πŸ™‚

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