I had only read one book by Marcus Sedgwick before- Killing the dead– and it was pretty dark. The Ghosts of Heaven follows suit, this time focusing on spirals as a theme; something never ending. Or so it seems.
The story is in fact four short stories, which can be read in 24 different ways. I chose to read it as he’d set it out.
The first- written in verse- is set in prehistoric times and tells the story of a girl who longs to understand the magic markings in a cave and the wonders of natural spirals that surround her. I wish she had sooner. The second, set in Medieval times is the story of Anna, a cunning woman accused of being a witch. The third (and probably my favourite) is about a doctor who, following the death of his wife, takes a new job- daughter in tow- at an asylum, one cleverly constructed around (surprise, surprise) a spiral staircase. The last quarter is set in the far future, when Earth can no longer sustain its masses and humanity seeks solace on a new planet, via a spaceship spiralling through space.
It is beautifully written. The stories twist, turn and inevitably intertwine. I found the whole concept both fascinating and deeply, deeply disturbing. Such an interesting tale with lots to think about. I can see why the book was shortlisted for this year’s Carnegie award. One day re-read it in a different order. Maybe then I’ll fully understand the end…