the Ghosts of Heaven Review

This is my review for the Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick.


1. Review

The first thing that intrigued me about this book was the blurb:

There are four quarters to this novel;

They can be read in any order and the story will work.

They are assembled here in just one of twenty-four possible combinations;

This order makes one kind of sense,

but the reader should feel free to choose a different order,

and a different sense if desired.

You can see why.

The Ghosts of Heaven is like no book I've ever read. I read it in the order it is in the book, as it seemed a logical way of reading it.

The first quarter, Whispers in the Dark, is written in poem form. It tells the story of a girl in a tribe a long time ago, hoping to be a part of the magic that helps her people survive. It mentions no names, just she. It was a very interesting read, although I had to re-read parts a couple of times to understand what was going on (that might just be me not concentrating properly though).

The second quarter, The Witch in the Water, is based on a girl and her brother, when their mother dies. As the title may suggest, she is accused of being a witch. This is a bit closer in time than the first quarter. It is written in the more traditional story verse. Witch hunts are always interesting subjects to read and write about; this being no exception. I really enjoyed this section.

The third quarter, The Easiest Room in Hell, tells us of a mental institute and the tales of its patients and doctors, following one doctor in particular. I liked this section as it shows the struggle some people have with fitting in with 'normal' society. I found it quite easy reading, but that isn't a bad thing. It touches upon some very controversial subjects which I found really interesting.

The fourth and final quarter, The Song of Destiny, is probably the weirdest in my opinion. It shows us a future, where humanity is searching the galaxy for a new planet, overpopulation having become an increasingly big issue. The ideas within this section intrigue me, the technology and ideals of future generations interesting. However, there were some points where I lost the storyline a bit. Maybe Sedgwick didn't want us to understand everything, maybe it was meant to stay mysterious. I don't know.

The prevailing feature throughout all four quarters is the spiral. Whether it be a shell, a drawing, a dance, waves or signals. Although I think this is a really unique and intriguing idea, I never really understood the spiral.

Also, I love the idea of having different stories with one linking feature, but with this I felt almost let-down at the end, as because you can read the quarters in any order, there is no definite conclusion; each quarter felt like an individual story, rather than part of something bigger.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was intriguing and unique, but I would have liked a more definite ending. It left me really thinking about the issues it raises - a mark of a great book.

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