Marcus Sedgwick’s latest offering is the perfect book for readers who are still pondering the multiple paths in his Printz Award-winning Midwinterblood and are seeking something new to captivate and astound them.
The Ghosts of Heaven is divided into four parts, which might be four different stories or four parts of the same story. In settings as varied as a prehistoric cave, a gossipy village, an insane asylum on the cusp of modernity and a spaceship en route to other worlds, readers meet a series of eager but flawed characters. A girl yearns to make her mark with charcoal and powder; a teenage herbalist is helpless to stop the accusations of witchcraft that surround her; a doctor’s fears are echoed in his patients; and a space sentinel faces decisions that might affect all of eternity. The four stories are linked through a motif of spirals and helixes, geometric shapes that carry mathematical, artistic and spiritual significance.
Sedgwick advises readers that the four stories can be read in any of 24 different combinations. Like the spirals that follow humanity through space and time, readers of this unusual novel will find themselves turning in apparent circles, yet always ending up in a slightly different place from where they started.
Jill Ratzan teaches research regiments in central New Jersey. She learned most of what she knows about YA lit from her terrific grad students.