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The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
  

The Ghosts of Heaven

NewGen - YA Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   

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Shortlisted for the Bookseller Young Adult Book Prize 2015.

One of our Books of the Year 2014 - Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2014 This is a remarkable and surprising book, just when you think you understand it, whoosh, the unexpected taps you on the shoulder again. There are four quarters to this story; they travel across time, yet somehow are connected and can be read in any order. The writing is clever, each story has a main character, each one different to the one that has gone before, yet linked in a vital way. If you do choose to read the stories in a different order to the one the author has chosen, will your experience be different, will you have an altered understanding, will you feel the same when you turn the final page? Compelling yet often uncomfortable, sharp yet subtle, this will make you feel, think and question what you know; this, is a wonderfully fascinating read.

The Costa Award Judges thought The Ghosts of Heaven was “A startlingly original novel with a strong conceptual link to the motif of a spiral. A hugely ambitious work.”

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Aimee Sweet, age 13 - 'Sedgwick’s book is so intricate it amazed me when I started reading the first story. I just love how everything is all connected and fits together so perfectly, but despite this you still can’t predict what happens next.' Read full review >
  • Chloe Shortall, age 18 - 'I really enjoyed this fantastic novel from the award winning Marcus Segewick. All four storylines were compelling and captivating. I would recommend this novel.' Read full review >
  • Madeleine Faulkner - 'I found it quite interesting to read something outside of my comfort area, which tested my reading skills.' Read full review >
  • Emily Passmore, age 13 - 'This book is intriguing and interesting, with each section different from the others. I would definitely recommend it to others!' Read full review >
  • Jack Wilson, age 12 - 'Brilliant, complicated and different!' Read full review >

Synopsis

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

A cleverly interlinked novel written in four parts by PRINTZ AWARD-winning author, Marcus Sedgwick, about survival and discovery, and about the effect of the spiral, a symbol that has no end, on all our lives. The spiral has existed as long as time has existed. Follow the ways of infinity to discover its meaning. It's there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin. There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch. There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny. Each takes their next step in life. None will ever go back to the same place. And so their journeys begin...

Reviews

A startlingly original novel with a strong concept link to the motif of a spiral. A hugely ambitious work. -- The Judges COSTA CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD The Ghosts of Heaven is an excellent book that will open up new avenues of thought and future reading and introduces teenage readers to a more inventive understanding of storytelling. The Ghosts of Heaven is a book teens are likely to remember as a pivotal reading experience. BOOKTRUST It's an intelligent, ambitious and hugely satisfying novel showing that there's no need to stick with simple for young adult fiction. -- Anna James WELOVETHISBOOK.COM Marcus Sedgwick's beguiling novel about human longing, The Ghosts of Heaven, is a triumph... The four stories in themselves are engrossing and fluently written but what makes this book something special is that, as a whole, it is also a beguiling and philosophical account of human longing and the unknown. -- Martin Chilton THE TELEGRAPH Marcus Sedgwick is the kind of author you utterly love and find annoying at the same time. Mainly because he's so incredibly clever and smart that is on another level that you can't believe he manages to pull off these great stories every time; and yet he does... They're tales of the odd and slightly unexplained with a sense of sorrow lingering around them. Marcus Sedgwick is Poe for this generation as he weaves tales that make you want to lock your doors when your alone. SISTER SPOOKY If anyone ever suggests to you that science and art (or philosophy) don't go together, give them this book! Four fabulous stories from different time frames linked by the natural constant of the spiral. From pre-history to the distant future there are spirals and humans longing to make sense of them. This really does have to be the book of the year. THE BOOKBAG Ghosts of Heaven is a return to Sedgwick's talent for interlocking stories and symbols last seen in his 2012 novel Midwinterblood. It's an intelligent, ambitious and hugely satisfying novel showing that there's no need to stick with simple for young adult fiction. WE LOVE THIS BOOK The book has an overarching theme of the spiral. Marcus Sedgwick is exceptionally clever in his writing, something which was made apparent with his previous book She Is Not Invisible (If you haven't read that please do so. Now.) and something that is reinforced in this book. There are many little tidbits that if you aren't playing close attention you will miss, but that's not to say it's a hard book to read. I really enjoyed the theme and what it stood for, how it affected the different characters I met. READARAPTOR Marcus Segwick's writing is amazing. Each story completely takes you in. They are gems in their own right but then they also work together tomake this book... I still can't find the right words. Just wow. The Ghosts of Heaven is without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year! LITTLE LUNA'S LIBRARY I like that Marcus Sedgwick takes risks and is always trying to broaden his appeal to a wider readership. The Ghosts of Heaven is fascinating, tragic, and utterly compelling. HACKWRITERS.COM Each story reflects the last and also adds meaning to the story that follows. Sedgwick's writing is easy to comprehend yet is also heavily textured. Key elements in each story resonate throughout the work, and common themes emerge naturally. This is a lesson in perception and meaning and though more learned readers may find some of the plotlines a little bit too obvious, it's still an extremely enjoyable journey, and one that should fascinate mature minds of all ages. STARBURST Teenage readers who like their books to have ambition will find much to admire in Marcus Sedgwick's The Ghosts of Heaven, whose recurring motif is the idea of a spiral, which addresses the meaning of life. THE TELEGRAPH This theme [what makes a person who they are] is also examined with grace and thoughtfulness by Marcus Sedgwick in Ghosts of Heaven. Sedgwick's writing is human and gripping. Another one for the fireside, and it will plant questions in any teenager's mind. -- Philip Womack LITERARY REVIEW ...evokes vivid characters, trigger ideas and add up to sophisticated and sometimes disturbing exploration of our response to the unknown. -- Nicolette Jones THE SUNDAY TIMES


About the Author

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick began to write seriously in 1994, and his first book, Floodland, was published by Orion in 2000, and won the Branford-Boase award for best debut children's novel. Witch Hill followed in 2001, and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.

The Kiss of Death is published in paperback in April 2009, and picks up a thread from his highly acclaimed My Swordhand is Singing (winner of the 2007 Booktrust Teenage Book Award). In between came what Marcus calls “my big one - a project I've been working on for so long my head hurts.” – Blood Red Snow White, which was first published to considerable acclaim in 2007.

2009 saw Marcus turn his attention to books for younger readers with the launch of a humorous new series: The Raven Mysteries, narrated by a grumpy raven, Edgar. Titles are Flood and Fang, Ghosts and Gadgets and Lunatics and Luck.

In his spare time, he is also a stone carver and wood engraver and illustrates all his novels! Marcus lives in Sussex with his wife and his daughter, Alice. Finally Marcus is also a drummer, and at the moment he plays in two bands: visit www.garrett-music.tv, and www.internationalbandofmystery.com to find out more.

Q&A with Marcus Sedgwick

Many of your novels are inspired by history and by myth and legend - have these areas always been a fascination of yours since childhood and if so how did this passion come about?
Yes, I always loved myths and legends - I used to read and re-read two books from the library - one a big illustrated edition of Greek Myths and the other Old Peter's Russian Tales. I don't know why I was fascinated by these stories, but maybe simply because I find them to be more glamorous than contemporary stories...

Apart from writing what are your passions?
I love music, both listening to it and playing it (I'm a drummer). A day without music is not a proper day... I also love travel and try to travel as much as I can manage.

Where did the idea come from for The Raven Mysteries?
It was a single line, the first line in the book in fact. I'd had it for ages but didn't know where I was going to use it until the character of Edgar came along: "I suspect I may have fleas again".

The Raven Mysteries are full of humour and mad-cap action, which is quite different from your novels for older readers. Was this a conscious decision of yours when setting out to write this series?
Absolutely, and it was great fun. After writing a few hardcore goth books, it was great to let my hair down with these stories. And it gave me fresh impetus to go back to the next YA novel, Revolver, with renewed determination to be gloomy!

Where and when do you write?
I write at the weekends, and mostly in the study in my loft, but also sometimes I travel to write - eg much of Revolver was written on trips to Sweden.

What age did you first start writing and when did you think that one day you'd write a novel that would actually be published?
I started to write as a teenager a bit, but properly when I was in my mid-twenties. It took a few years to think it might actually happen!

With both your publisher and author hat on, what advice can you give would-be children's authors in getting published?
The most important thing is to know your market! Who do you think your book is going to be read by? What else is out there that's like it? Are you writing something that will sell?

The historical context of most of your novels must mean a huge amount of research prior to writing each book. What does this involve and how long does it take?
It varies from book to book but it's not a chore as I love to do research. It's easier than actually writing the things! For Revolver, the research spanned about 16 months, of little trips here and there and lots and lots of reading!

What was your inspiration for Revolver ? Finding an empty shell casing on the pavement in St Petersburg. It was a long way from there to the finished book but that was the start of it.

What was your favourite book as a teenager? Without question, the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

If you got into Doctor Who’s tardis, where (or when) would you go?
Great question, impossible to answer. So many amazing things to go and see – the building of the pyramids, a Viking boat putting out to sea, Man Utd winning the European Championship in 1968…

Who would you choose to be if you could be a celebrity for the day? Matt Bellamy on any day with a gig.

If you were invisible for a day what would you do? I’m invisible most days, so nothing much would change.

10 things you didn't know about Marcus Sedgwick

1 - I have an embarrassing middle name, but I'm not going to tell you what it is
2 - I am learning Swedish
3 - As well as playing the drums, I play bass guitar
4 - My grandfather invented the hydraulic tipper truck
5 - I have a pet raven called Edgar, though he doesn’t say much, eat much, or indeed, move much. There’s a possibility that he’s stuffed, I guess.
6 - I’m extraordinarily sleepy right now.
7 - I represented England (Juniors) at Fencing.
8 - I totally love football.
9 - I'm allergic to red peppers
10 - I believe there is only one radio or TV station worth listening to: Radio 3.

Author photo © Kate Christer

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Book Info

Publication date

5th March 2015

Author

Marcus Sedgwick

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Author's Website

www.marcussedgwick.com/

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Publisher

Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's) an imprint of Hachette Children's Group

Format

Paperback
224 pages

Categories

NewGen - YA Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

General fiction (Children's / Teenage)

ISBN

9781780622217

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