Title: The Ghosts of Heaven
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, anthology
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.
I really enjoyed Midwinterblood by the same author; that one was a similar book in that it was a collection of loosely related stories that had a unifying thread running through them. While the thread through Midwinterblood was more concrete and the urgency of the novel picked up dramatically as the book progressed, this one was a lot...broader.
The author says that you can read these stories in any order, although they are presented in the book chronologically according to the time period they are set in. I think that's where this book lost me; instead of building up to something, this book just goes around in lazy circles, as if it's trying to make a point but can't quite make up its mind where to go. The spiral motif felt forced as it was introduced in all of the stories, and the spiral in itself was just such a broad and vague concept that I didn't find it compelling.
I did like the stories in this book, but this was nowhere near what I was expecting from Marcus Sedgwick. I'd suggest you go read Midwinterblood instead!