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3.06  ·  Rating Details ·  3,317 Ratings  ·  679 Reviews
When Elizabeth, a reclusive historian, is found drowned in a tributary of the River Cam, she is clutching a glass prism and has left behind her unfinished magnum opus, a book on Isaac Newton's alchemy. Her son turns to Lydia Brooke, a young writer and friend of Elizabeth's, and asks her to complete the last chapter of the book.
Paperback, 340 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Phoenix (first published 2007)
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Oct 08, 2015 Madeline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ghost story admirers
Shelves: 2007, horror
I've seen some reviews of Rebecca Stott's Ghostwalk compare it to The DaVinci Code, but it's an extremely superficial comparison. Books about modern-day people who investigate mysteries from the past existed long before Dan Brown hammered out his infamous novel; he did not create a new genre.

In Ghostwalk, Lydia Brooke is asked by her ex-lover to ghostwrite the final chapters of an Isaac Newton biography that his late mother was writing. As she completes the work, Lydia finds the seventeenth cent
Jul 08, 2008 Christa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
After reading this book, I am sorry to say that I was severely disappointed. The synopsis for it sounded great, and I normally love books that involve a historical mystery to solve, but there really wasn't much about this book that I liked. A historian and writer of screenplays, Lydia Brooke, is hired by her former married lover, Cameron Brown, to ghostwrite a book, after the author - his mother- Elizabeth Volgelsang, is murdered. The unfinished manuscript involves Isaac Newton and a group of se ...more
Nov 08, 2009 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
It's not often that I think a NYT book reviewer gets it totally wrong, but that's the case with Rebecca Stott's novel, Ghostwalk. I should have been tipped off by the trite final sentence of the review: "[Stott's:] home terrain, however, is the river-riven landscape of the human heart." What does the river stand for in this sentence? Besides, "river" and "riven" have the exact same etymology. Pure blather.

But enough nit-picking on the review. The novel takes place in contemporary Cambridge, wher
Oct 05, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
THis is the best book that I have ever read that I could only rate two stars.

I loved Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and I couldn't wait to pick up another book that might take a deeper look into Isaac Newton's alchemical experiments. The research that was done before this book was written is incredible, and the passages in which Elizabeth Vogelsang's The Alchemist (the fictitious biography of Newton at the center of Ghostwalk) is excerpted are very good. We learn about glass making in sevente
Jul 07, 2011 Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not finish this book and my only regret is that I spent way too much time trying to like it. I found nothing to like. It claims to be 'a haunting literary thriller' and a 'historical mystery involving Isaac Newton's alchemy'. Why I thought anything involving Isaac Newton and his alchemy would be interesting is beyond me now. Turns out I have no interest in Isaac Newton or alchemy or the 17th century. At least not as portrayed in this book. The entire framework of the book is awkward - it i ...more
Apr 25, 2008 Judy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I enjoyed the start of this book, and was intrigued by the idea of a mix between a ghost story and detective story, with 17th-century events woven in with present-day ones. I was also attracted by the fact that it's set in Cambridge, a city I know.
However, I soon got fed up and gave up after about 80 pages. I didn't believe in any of the characters and found the plot too convoluted, so decided not to waste my time!
Jun 03, 2008 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book - set in Cambridge - in Cambridge one afternoon hoping for a good ghost story, a better feel for the town (I was there only one day), and a twist on the life of Sir Isaac Newton. The book gave me very little feel for the Cambridge. It was, at best, only a passable ghost story. Some of the material on Newton was interesting, though.

The narrator, Lydia Brooke, is an intriguing character. A writer, she is hired by her former lover and prominent Cambridge neuroscientist, Cameron,
Evan Schwenk
Aug 14, 2007 Evan Schwenk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nerdy people
Shelves: 2007
Good story to why I read this book...because I knew that I was going to meet the author in the city where it takes place and she was going to take us on a walk through the city pointing out inspirations and scenes. I ended up really enjoying the book though because it is a cross between a nonfiction and a fiction. It deals with the true life of Issac Newton and tries to explain in an extreme way how he became one of the best scientists/discoverers in history. The only drawback was the ending...i ...more
I picked this up at the library while browsing new materials, attracted by the idea of a ghost tale set in Cambridge, England, where I once lived. The New Yorker review sounded promising, too:

"A Cambridge historian dies under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind the nearly completed manuscript of a book on the alchemical experiments of Isaac Newton. Her son, a research scientist, hires his former lover, Lydia, to finish the book. Meanwhile, a shadowy group of animal-rights activists escalate
May 23, 2007 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A historical fiction mystery in the style of Da Vinci Code. A murder begins an investigation into a famous historical figure and their supposed involvement with the occult (in this case Newton). Although it seemed a blatant jump on the bandwagon of Dan Brown, I read a good review of the book and decided what the heck. Save yourself the bother. Although the author's semi-poetic narrative style is a sharp derivation from Brown's no-nonsense sensational journalist writing, the story suffers from to ...more
Jan 17, 2010 Jacki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so desperately wanted to give this book more stars, but really, I can't. Rebecca Stott takes what could be an amazing tale and muddles it into something implausible and contrived.

I love the idea of history replaying itself, of the past coming back to haunt us, of people long gone attempting to correct, hide, or undo what has been done. However, the way Stott pulls the past, the seventeenth century of Isaac Newton with the present, just does not seem to fit.

Her strength, describing seventeenth
Aug 11, 2011 Kirsten rated it really liked it
This is an absolutely brilliant book, combining science, history, art, ghosts and suspense in a beautifully-written novel. My enjoyment of this book was almost certainly increased by it taking place in Cambridge, where I live, and more specifically Chesterton, where I used to live, the University Library, where I used to work, and Trinity College, where I currently work. In fact, I had the singularly immersive and creepy experience of reading this book while working at the desk in the Wren Libra ...more
Nov 15, 2016 Lisasuej rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, audiobooks
Ill-conceived and just not believable in any way. I barely finished this one. In the past, I enjoyed Rebecca Stott's other book, The Coral Thief, but this one was a stinker.

Consider: 27% of those who have read this book rated it two stars or less. They are wise. Do not waste your precious life's hours with this book. You can do better, fellow readers. Find something else to read.
Jan 07, 2009 Leslie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So ridiculous I promptly forgot it. I'm growing weary of the DaVinci-bred "it's about smart people so it must be a smart book" genre. Zero suspense, a creaky supernatural subplot, lots of Cambridge history... and animal rights terrorists? If they were worth the energy, I'd spend more time enumerating the shortcomings of the vain, humorless protagonist and her scumbucket boyfriend.
Terelyn Marks
Jul 15, 2015 Terelyn Marks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is a series of murders going back to the 1660s REALLY connected and what do they have to do with Isaac Newton?
Nov 30, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it
Spine-chilling, tense and full of accurate detail this beautiful Ghost story is a compelling read.

This beautiful, Ghost story about obsession and love will touch your heart and have you jumping in your seat when the lights are off. The absorbing narrative sent chills down my spine as I lost myself within this masterpiece with historical elements within, which is set in the backdrop of England’s Cambridge in 2003. The finely woven, intricate web of details are exquisite as you immerse yourself i
Steve Pifer
Jul 16, 2014 Steve Pifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First things first. If I finished the book, thats an indication that I enjoyed it, at least to some degree. Life is too short to continue to read a story that frustrates me or that loses my attention to the degree that I would give anything less than 3/5 stars. That said, I would give a bit less than 4 stars, as I use the 4 star rating quite a bit, but after scanning other readers reviews, I will try to balance the scales a bit and give a higher mark than I would normally. I cheated, I guess.
I really like the genre of "dig in old books for keys to old mysteries while solving modern ones" but I'm getting tired of overly-pretentious writing. In this case, it was written in the first person so the writing prevented me from connecting to the main character. She's got her flaws anyway--is hung up on her married boyfriend, can't let go, etc--but there still wasn't much that let me sympathize. I completely detested the boyfriend himself, who was too slimy to be likeable but not interesting ...more
Mindy Conde
I feel bad giving a book only a single star, but I honestly can't give it any more in good conscious. At first I was completely drawn into this book, the author is actually a rather good writer and I enjoyed her style at first. I thought that the device of the narrator speaking to her ex-lover the entire time, addressing the reader as "you," as in the ex-lover, was merely a quirk that would pass. It wasn't. She kept this going the entire time. And it drove me insane. Partly because it seemed lik ...more
Feb 11, 2014 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-locale-s
BEWARE of spoilers. One man's book flap summary is another man's spoiler. I do not hide or promote my reviews.

I was all set to love this book. I sought it out because I truly loved another book by Rebecca Stott, called "The Coral Hunter" (reviewed separately).

But this, which is Stott's debut novel, never "gelled" for me.

I fully understand Stott's plan of having "entanglements" between a series of 17th century murders in Cambridge and a series of modern-day murders and animal mutilations.

By Rebecca Stott
5 stars and a heart
pp. 344

I am always eager to be a little frightened in October and Rebecca Stott’s book Ghostwalk did the trick for me. With ghosts from the 17th century lingering around modern Cambridge and seeming to influence modern events with murder and terrorist acts Rebecca Stott intrigues the reader, provides shivers and raises hair. She does this such beautiful writing that I want to read more from her:

“Riddler, riddled, riddling. Riddled with ...I thought the
Mar 21, 2010 Donna rated it liked it
Recommended to Donna by: my friend Mandy Hopkins
Shelves: 2010
A friend of mine recommended this book and loaned me her copy. I thought it looked like something I might enjoy but after about 60 or so pages I didn't really like it. But I usually try to give a book until page 100 before I give up so I carried on. And I'm glad I did. The story took a bit of a supernatural turn and kept my interest from then on.

It is based on real facts about the life of Isaac Newton, and some of the scholars around him during his time at Trinity College Cambridge. A present da
Jun 11, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
I'll admit right away I didn't finish this, so my comments only apply to about the first fifth of the book. I loved the description--sounded right up my alley, mixing mystery with history and science and maybe a little fantasy. But I couldn't get used to the writing style, which was first person, but continually addressing another person so there was a lot of "you did" that or "you said" that, and it just felt really awkward, and as an audiobook, very hard to distinguish a dialogue "you" from a ...more
Christine Alfano
I wasn't sure that I'd like this book going in -- so I suppose I was a bit of a resistant reader. However, even though it is definitely a bit odd -- with a certain amount of clash between a mystical/historical narrative and modern day conspiracy theories/politics -- it really got under my skin. In a good way.

I appreciated the risks that the author took with narrative style, using second person a lot, addressing the entire narrative to her lover (creating a dual audience); intermingling history
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2009 Mattie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ghostwalk is a mystery delving into some real life historical events surrounding the life and career of Isaac Newton, intertwined with a contemporary mystery in which the protagonist becomes the focal point for the two mysteries spanning several centuries. I liked the concept and wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. Normally I'm a sucker for the book-in-a-book or fiction that comes with its own footnotes thing. And, I suppose, I did ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Elizabeth Vogelsang, Cambridge historian, is found drowned, her son Cameron contacts his ex-lover Lydia to ask if she will complete Elizabeth's final manuscript - an investigation of Isaac Newton's alchemic research, which is missing two critical chapters. Lydia's own research draws her into dangerous revelations about the Cambridge of 1665 and a series of murders there, which are reflecting into - bleeding into - modern Cambridge. You probably didn't see what I did there, with the "bleedin ...more
Sep 29, 2008 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who likes second-rate historical/murder mysteries
Waited and waited to get this book at the library and ended up ordering it from another branch. Didn't live up to my expectations. It could have been so much better. The first half was so boring, that it felt neverending. I couldn't identify with any of the characters because the author wrote in such standoffish forms. Brooke is hung up on her married former lover and he's a sleazeball. When you can't like or empathize with at least one character, its hard to enjoy it. The setup and basic plot o ...more
Meh. I liked the historical bit and it seems like the author did a lot of research on Newton, alchemy, and the 17th Century before creating her mystery.

That said, I really loathed the relationship between the main character Lydia and her married lover. I have little respect for a character that recognizes their own weakness and knowingly walks into a situation that would put them at risk, and even less respect for a character that lacks the self-awareness to know when they're walking into a sit
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Rebecca Stott was born in Cambridge in 1964 and raised in Brighton in a large Plymouth Brethren community. She studied English and Art History at York University and then completed an MA and PhD whilst raising her son, Jacob, born in 1984.

She is the author of several academic books on Victorian literature and culture, two books of non-fiction, including a partial biography of Charles Darwin, and a
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“Science doesn't reduce things, or explain mysteries away; it just discovers stranger and stranger things.” 4 likes
“It's only when you've pieced together a story in several different ways that you realise where the holes are, discover the knowledge that is still missing, the questions you still need to ask.” 3 likes
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