Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 357 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I picked this book up because the premise sounded interesting, because I fell in love with that gorgeous cover, and because I know how much Sedgwick is loved. However, if you're like me and have never read any of his other works before, this is most definitely not a good book to start with.

While I am sure this book will be fascinating to some, I found it to be incredibly frustrating and bland. The fact that it is split into four quarters and the quarters can be read in any possible way is beyond interesting. Like the rather traditional reader I am, I read them in the order that they are presented and found myself almost DNFing this book after both the first, second, and third quarter. I literally only continued out of sheer curiosity about the fourth and final one in space because that had the coolest concept, in my opinion. Also because I didn't want one of my last reads of 2014 to be a DNF. All of these stories are connected by the spiral, a symbol that means something different to everyone who crosses it. But, if anything, this story made me hate spirals and fear coming across them ever again because of the mysteries and unknown now associated with them.

The first story in this book is told in a unique writing style because it is about cave drawings. There's nothing really for me to say about it. Interesting? Yes. Captivating? No. I couldn't connect to the main character, I felt no emotions toward her, and I just found the story to be bland. I was happy it was the shortest one among the four.

The second story in this book held my interest slightly better, but I hate damning women to Hell for witchcraft simply because they turned you down since you're a pig-headed idiot that wants her, but won't accommodate her family alongside her. So, yeah, this story frustrated me. A lot. Maybe even brought out some anger in me. Kudos to Sedgwick for being able to do that, but still, not really the emotion you would want to elicit from a reader.

The third story was one that I skimmed. It was very boring to me, having to do with an insane asylum and its crazy owner. I just kind of glossed over it and rooted for Dexter the patient who did not deserve his fate. No emotional connection to this one either.

The third and final story is the only reason that I gave this book one star. It was definitely interesting and I would read an entire book about this specific story. I'm sure that there was some set-up mistakes in the system since it did not seem entirely scientifically accurate, but it was more interesting than the rest. Even then, though, I felt separated from Bowman.

For a book that begins talking about how the universe came into fruition and then ends with how all four stories somehow relate to each other, there was, unfortunately, nothing going on in-between. This book and I just were not meant to be. I am beyond confused and felt like I kind of wasted my time with this one, which is a very rare feeling for me to encounter as a reader. I'm unsure if I will read any of Sedgwick's other works.

1 star


FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I really loved Sedgwick's White Crow, but I read She Is Not Invisible and didn't like it at all, and I feel like his writing is just not my thing. All of his recent releases seem pretty experimental and potentially confusing, which is fine, just not my thing. Alas.

    1. This is my first Sedgwick book and I think it may be my list.