cover image The Ghosts of Heaven

The Ghosts of Heaven

Marcus Sedgwick. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-62672-125-8

In a prehistoric era, a girl learns the secrets of the cave paintings that give her people their sustenance and identity. In 18th-century England, a priest campaigning against witchcraft and evil targets a young woman who inherits her mother’s role of a “gracewife,” drawing the village into the plot against her. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Lovecraft-inspired poet goes mad in a nightmarish East Coast asylum while a well-meaning student of “modern” psychology tries to help. And in the future, the steward of a deep-space colonization mission learns that his undertaking is rooted in a lie. This quartet of stories can be read in any order, readers are told, and they obliquely reference each other; a through-line exists in the mysterious and persistent imagery of the spiral, a central focus and fascination. Printz-winner Sedgwick (Midwinterblood) doesn’t shy from the tragedy inherent in human interaction; these are not cheerful stories, and their protagonists don’t fare well, although their deeds resonate in small ways through history. Readers who like untangling puzzles will enjoy parsing the threads knitting together this corkscrew of tales. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)