Title: The Ghosts of Heaven
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
YA – Short Stories/Novellas
Release Date: January 6, 2015
When I think of Marcus Sedgwick, I immediately think of writing that is minimalistic, but beautiful. Sparse, but stunning. Mystical and magical. I remember how I reacted to Midwinterblood, how I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterward. How I knew each story in the collection was connected, so I kept reading and then was absolutely shattered at the end by the thread that ran through each story. I remember my first Sedgwick experience, Revolver, and how it wasn’t my favorite ever, but it was still atmospheric and chilling and thought-provoking. And when I recently read She Is Not Invisible, it felt thrilling and dangerous and fun, a puzzle to be slowly solved and savored.
So. Here I am with The Ghosts of Heaven. A Marcus Sedgwick novel is always an experience, not your run-of-the-mill traditional reading, so of course I had high expectations. And now I’ve finished, and I’m sitting at my desk trying to write this preview, and…I just don’t know.
Much like Midwinterblood, The Ghosts of Heaven features several individual short stories, of which each can be read independently. In fact, at the beginning of the novel, the reader is even given the option (and the freedom) to read the stories in whatever order they choose. It was jarring to have that option, and as scared as I am of messing up, I chose to read straight through. After finishing, I am in agreement that any order would work just as well, although I loved discovering the relational thread the way I did.
So why am I sitting here so confused? Well, I don’t know. Sedgwick writes with a mystical, lilting quality that always transports me to the setting of his novels. I love the feeling of the words rolling over my tongue as I read segments out loud, I love his talent in using words sparsely enough to build suspense so well, I love how completely different stories fall back on each other through the simplest, most shocking thread.
At the same time, I just don’t understand. Like I said, this wasn’t your traditional novel with a linear plot, amazing characters, and some romance thrown in. This was poetry and prose, past and present and future, spirals and space travel and insane asylums and witchcraft. This was cave drawings and fear and survival. The Ghosts of Heaven was deep and profound, stimulating, and thought-provoking and all those other book-review type words. It was also a little bit over my head and a lot of trying to discover connections. It was confusion and chaos and a whole lot of feelings.
So. Here we are. This novel really defies easy classification. It’s a genre-bending collection of stories with a common theme. It’s a mind-blowing, shattering experience that you can customize for your own reading tastes. It’s a crazy ride that circles and loops back on itself at some, any, all points. I’m sitting here knowing that I will be thinking about this novel for days, even weeks to come. How it made me feel. The wisdom in its pages. That beautiful, perfect writing. And when it’s all said and done, I’ll pick myself up, wait for the next Sedgwick novel, and hope for another stunning experience.