Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Ghosts Of Heaven

The Ghosts Of Heaven
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Spirals are everywhere, it's existed since time began, and it can be seen everywhere. It's there in Australia when a girl walks through a forest, it should have been there when she made her mark on the cave wall. It's there in England, carved in to the ground, it can be seen in the waters Anna is dunked in when she's accused of witchcraft, and it's on the toy her younger brother plays with, a brother who saves her. It's there in the US, a source of fear for a mad poet, taunting him in the form of a staircase. And it's present in the future, on a space craft speeding through...well..space. They are all connected by a spiral.

Woooooww, okay, I see why everyone is raving about this book! It's so incredibly unique and different and I still can't quite wrap my head around it! I tried to do my own synopsis without giving too much away, you can be the judge of if I succeeded! I read the book in the order the author suggested, and each quarter was different from the last. One was numbered after a sequence, one was in poem form, one was diary entries and one was regular chapters, and I've never read a book that was done in so many different ways. And we all know I love unique things which is why this has me squealing!

Each quarter is around 100 pages or so long, but each gives you a feel for the time, the setting and the character. You feel for the character and get a connection to them. I mean the first quarter was written in kind of a poem style, and I still felt a connection to the character, despite not knowing too much about her! Each quarter has such a vivid setting, a world is created in each quarter that sucks you in and each is different to the others, obviously.

I was particularly impressed with the first quarter, because it was short chapters, set out like a poem, with lines, which sounds stupid when I'm describing but you'll see what I mean when you read it! I was so impressed because there wasn't as much of a word count as the other quarters, with just a few words I could so easily picture the caves and the paintings, the people, the way of life, and you get a lot of information about the culture of the time. I'm not entirely sure about the exact time, but it was set in Australia (I think). But yeah, I was fascinated by the tale, and wanted to know what happens next but it leaves you hanging! She totally thought of the idea of writing like on a bit of a paper and leaving messages and stuff, and of course the spiral was present throughout.

So it was a total jolt when you move to England circa the witch trials and the prat in the carriage. This quarter well and truly got my emotions working, it really riled me up. I always get so riled reading stories about the witch trials and this was no exception, I get so angry that poor innocent girls pretty much got murdered because other village members where jealous, or a bloke got rejected. Ugh. I just can't get my head around the fact that people could live with themselves doing that. This one had a more heartbreaking ending for  me to be honest, and it really left me with emotions running high. Again spirals everywhere. Lots of jealousy and betrayal and so on.

The third quarter was in the US, I want to say 1930's but I think I'm wrong, but it was before there was too much known about mental illness I think, SO ANYWAY, this one is set in an insane asylum. This quarter was the diary entries, and it's about a new doctor there, who there was more to than met the eye, with his wife and everything, and he makes a connection with a patient there who is kind of terrified of spirals. He's a poet. This one connects to the previous two, incredibly well, there's pictures of the cave paintings and his daughter is reading about Anna and her trial! This one was a very gritty look, the patients where being abused in different ways, and it was clearly not a nice environment and you got a huge vibe off the quarter, not quite sinister, but definitely dodgy. The injustice in this really got me worked up as well!

The last quarter takes us in to the future and in to space, on a ship heading for New Earth. This one, again, ties all the parts together, first, second and third, and it was kind of like a murder mystery, the passengers are dying and our narrator has to work out what's going on and who's killing them. It's a bit more complicated than the other quarters, there's two of him and it involves a spiral/helix and it's a time type thing, a time type of complicated. I'm really not making any sense, trying to explain without giving too much away! This one is also the one that's chapters but that are numbered in a certain sequence, and there's little time jumps. To be honest each has a different and distinct narrative style.

None of the quarters are happy stories with happy endings. They're all quite powerful, sad, heartbreaking, serious type things. But they're all so well written you can feel the atmosphere of each quarter, each has a different vibe to it, each is different from the last, and each is twined together so incredibly subtly. The settings are also quite different from each other, but incredibly vivid. The characters are all so well written and developed for the little section they're allocated and the plots are quite developed but simple.

The plot is very complex. Each quarter dives right in, and you immediately grasp what's going on and what's happened previously, and then it's the perfect fast pace, concisely detailing the rest of the plot to the conclusion. I mean, I'm astounded at the fact there's four mini stories so perfectly written in so few pages with such detail, it's incredible. This is hard to review because, for me at least, it was like four mini books in one instead of one book!

This book is so totally for intelligent readers, people more intelligent than me I would imagine, I don't think Sedgwick was going for the "ooohh pretty words making pretty worlds" thing I had going on. Each story is kind of eerily similar, in a way, and this book is all about the symbolism. It's got plenty of history in its pages (something I love) aaaand for the super intelligent types there's philosophy and psychology, there may have been science in the last quarter, but science and I don't get along. You won't just be entertained by this book, you'll think. The book will really make you think. Although I felt quite disconnected from the last two stories, I was so invested in the first two, but the last two I was a bit like hmmmm. Not sure if it was on purpose or not, but even though I wasn't as invested, I was still enthralled by the storytelling.

So in conclusion. This book won't be for everyone, but if you're on the fence, you should give it a shot because while the stories are simple, what's going on behind the scenes as it where, with the connections and so on (sorry I'm so shit at explaining this) is more complex, aka there's bigger stuff going on. So anyway, the writing and storytelling is so beautiful and so incredibly detailed and well done considering the shortness of each quarter. So yeah...DOOO IIITT.

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