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The Ghosts of Heaven

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,603 ratings  ·  922 reviews
A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses histor
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
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Rebecca Sedgwick said this in a recent blog post: To be precise, (and I use all my words very precisely), in cryptographic terms it's not a code, it's a ciphe…moreSedgwick said this in a recent blog post: To be precise, (and I use all my words very precisely), in cryptographic terms it's not a code, it's a cipher. I have been asked to explain what it means, but I don't want to do that for a number of reasons, the most important of which is, as Stanley Kubrick said, 'You tell people what things mean, they don't mean anything anymore.'

I am interested to find out if anyone can solve it, and how long it takes for that to happen if so, without any help from me. This blog post will be the only thing I have to say on the matter. I am the only person who knows what it means and how to decipher it - not even my editor or closest family know, so the answer will go with me to my grave. If this is irritating, I'm very sorry. One or two people have been rather rude and angry seeming in their emails to me, which I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about. Someone asked me what right I had to put something in a book they couldn't understand. Hmm. There's a worrying thought for you.

Anyway, I will say here what I have said to anyone who has written to me so far.

1 - Yes, it is a cipher.
2 - And yes, it can be deciphered: everything needed to do so is contained in the book.
3 - As I said above, I use my words precisely.

If you don't understand it, or if you can't be bothered to try to work out what it means (and let's be honest, why should you be?) then that's fine. Not everything in life can be, or has to be, understood. Perhaps that's one of the things I was trying to suggest with the book.

To quote the poem by James Sarafian that I used a part of in The Ghosts of Heaven, and which appears in full in Killing the Dead:

"It is enough to know that not to know is enough.
It is enough not to know."(less)
Emily Lo I've only read the first two parts of the book, and overall it seems fine, but does contain a (not detailed) sexual harassment scene, mild swearing in…moreI've only read the first two parts of the book, and overall it seems fine, but does contain a (not detailed) sexual harassment scene, mild swearing in one part, and some blood/violence (not terribly detailed). (less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  3,603 ratings  ·  922 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 2015
Marcus Sedgwick is nuts. I love him.

I can see already why this book won't be for everyone. It's like a Cloud Atlas for young adults. Complex, mind-bending and thought-provoking. I don't even know how to classify this book. It is essentially four very different short stories wound together with the strangest of links. A link that is never-ending, that has been with us since the dawn of time and will continue long after we are gone.

Are you intrigued? Oh, you should be.

• A story of the Pa
Darth J
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: disappointing

This book is made up of 4 stories, all supposedly interconnected by the mystical symbol of the spiral [spooky voice:] ”Oooooooooooh.” The problem is that it connects the stories in the same way that Karen Black played a different role in each vignette of Trilogy of Terror . This premise is both too vague and pretentious to be used as a link.

Further, most of the book is tedious. The first story, Whispers in the Dark is told in verse and it’s about a cavewoman drawing spirals on a cave wall
shady boots



((Sorry guys, I'm still in a weird, screwed up state of mind right now, courtesy of this book's awesomeness.))
Elle (ellexamines)
Marcus Sedgwick likes messing with people's heads. That's my thesis statement. You want evidence? Can't. I think you should just read whatever the fuck this book is.

Okay, okay, okay, I'll try to review this. The Ghosts of Heaven is a composition of plot twists and intrigue. I'd compare it most closely to Parker Peevyhouse's masterful Where Futures End, or to a faster paced version of some of those what-the-fuck-am-i-reading magical realism books. The writing... exists. The plot is... one endles
Vanessa J.
Spirals. They're everywhere. I just didn't notice that until I read this book. You see them in art, in nature, in men's creations - in everything. And they're infinite - just like all the unexplainable things in life. I think I might just develop a phobia for them, or at least an obsession.

I always thought they were fascinating, but now I might just think they're maddening. And boy, didn't this book just mess with my mind because of spirals?

Four short stories (that can be read in any order) is w
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

I wouldn't really call this a review, because this is more like me spilling everything that is going on in my head in relation to this book. Celine will be doing a proper review of it on the blog sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that. Spoiler: she loved it.


So here is my first taste of Marcus Sedgwick's writing. And my thoughts on it? I like his writing style verrah much. I've heard that this style it distinct from most other YA authors, and I must agree.
If I am asked to describe this book in one word it will be 'WOW'

The book consists of 4 stories, each very different from the other but each has a tiny sliver of link which I could not co-relate at first very clearly. There is a note that the stories can be read in any order and still the overall plot will be the same. I read this in the simple given order and still loved it.

Each story is set in a different time era, the first is stone age- takes us back to tribes, magic and cannibalism, the seco
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
Review first posted on my blog

What an epic journey throughout time and space and the ages! I could not put this one down and that ending….. that ENDING oh that definitely had me reeling and quite frankly left me with more questions than answers, but I didn’t mind as this book and its themes were so well portrayed and executed that for the first time ever, I like that the author has left me to come up with theories and conclusions myself.

This book is told in 4 parts and the order they are set in
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
4.5 rating!

So brilliant!!!!! This is my first time reading a Marcus Sedgwick book and it definitely won't be my last! The way this man can write is incredible. The stories were clever, very interesting, and thought provoking. Even the style of writing and how the stories fit together had to do with the plot (spirals). Sedgwick is an artist who paints words. I was truly mesmerized.
Paige  Bookdragon


Need to sell my house, get some permits for my kitties, pack my bags, get a plane ticket and hire a boat that will take me to the middle of nowhere and spend my whole life thinking about spirals.

Full review to come.
Andis / Slytherin 🐍
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was practically perfect! I loved everything about.
It was chilling and gripping and everything in between.
The more and more I read the more it took my breath away.
I needed it to be longer, I needed moreee!
But it was still incredible, and I loved every bit of it.
Wendy Darling
New Sedgwick!! We hosted the cover reveal today, and we're giving away two ARCs of the book:



I would ask if you were as excited about this as I am, but I know that is impossible, so I won't even bother. :D
Head officially messed with.
4.5 stars

The Ghosts of Heaven is as mystifying, riveting, brilliant, unsettling and complicated as you can expect from Marcus Sedgwick. What Sedgwick accomplished with this novel transcends genres and breaks down barriers. He gives us four completely different and yet eerily similar stories that go deep into the mysteries of the universe, of life and the human mind, all within the short amount of pages given to each story. This is a gorgeous work of fiction, but also of philosophy, psychology an
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Quarter: 4 stars 🌟
Second Quarter: 4 stars 🌟
(Seeing red at some parts and wanting to drop kick people)

Quarter three 3.5 stars🌟 ,bit slower build up than the others but enjoyable.

Quarter four: Four stars 🌟

A fun, weird, and crazy interesting ride.. would recommend:)
Rachel  (APCB Reviews)
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
So this book went a little over my head. It's a smart book, and it's for smart people. I felt symbolism shooting out all over the place, motifs were everywhere, everything was done for a reason. It was all a bit overwhelming to me. This book is something different, something unique, and something just plain strange.

The Ghosts of Heaven is a collection of four short stories which take place in different time periods. Story 1 takes place in the cave-man era and is written in verse. I read this on
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
This wasn't what I was expecting at all from my very first Sedwig book and in fact is probably not the best place to start to taking the plunge into his work.

While profound and deep this read more like the inner ranting and ravings from the diary of a madman. A brilliant madman, maybe even a genius, but a madman all the same.

Broken up into four separate books (quarters) this gave you a taste of something different, something unique and more often than not, strange, with each new foray into the s
Max Lau • Maxxesbooktopia
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars-books
“It is their soul, crying for peace. It appears in their eyes, like a ghost resurfacing, crying for help. And then, when I stop reading, the mad waters rush in, and wash it away once more.”- The Ghost Of Heaven (Quarter 3), Marcus Sedgwick.


The writing style was crisp, epigrammatic and very well-seasoned. Marcus described the things around the characters in the book perfectly. Even though the first story in the book is not my favourite, the others definitely made up to it!

The plot fo
4.5 stars

You know what I think? This is easily one of the best books I have read this year.It's really hard to describe the nature and plot of this book because it's a very sophisticated piece of literature that I'll be forever in awe of. Marcus Sedgwick is a GENIUS, the ghosts of heaven is a brilliant work filled with highly intelligent ideas, theories, philosophies and other thought-provoking musings about the complexities of life. This will not be everyone's cup of tea though because some rea
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

Ok, that was one strange book. I'm not even sure what I want to rate it. I thought two of the four stories were ok. My favorite being the lunatic asylum and the astronaut. I finally saw how all of the stories weave together, but I'm still not sure how the spirals bring them together.

Anyway, this was just a strange little journey that I did enjoy even though there were some bad things happen in each of them. And the lunatic asylum sounds so familiar, it's like
UPDATE I'm still dead but my ghost is trapped on the earth and will not go to heaven until all of you give this book a try. So please do me a favour and

my mind is spiralling.im spiralling.you're spiralling.we all are spiralling.everybody is insane.this book is insane.im insane.you're insane.im just GAH idont know what the...fu...god whatshappening.im spiralling out of control.what whaaa...

(view spoiler)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Spirals, man. SPIRALS.

The Ghosts of Heaven is my first Marcus Sedgwick book, and it definitely won't be my last. This was a delight to immerse myself into these past couple of days.

This book is undeniably unputdownable. I was hooked from the very first story, told in free verse about a girl from the Neolithic period drawing strange symbols in a cave.

"And long after the people stop coming to make their marks in the dark.
long after the world grows empty and quiet,
long after everything has stop
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
4.5 stars. Wow wow wow wow.
The Book Queen
What a weird little book. Full thoughts and review to come, once I sort out all the unfathomable weirdness.

Renee Godding
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
“You want to go back to where you began. You want to find the happiness you once had. But you can never get there, because even if you somehow found it, you yourself would be different. You would have changed, from your journey alone, from the passing of time, if nothing else. You can never make it back to where you began, you can only ever climb another turn of the spiral stair. Forever.”

Markus Sedgwick’s 2014 novel The Ghosts of Heaven was pitched to me as “Cloud Atlas for a YA-audience.” As o
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it

Ever since I finished the last sentence of The Ghosts of Heaven, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. It's been a week since I've finished it, and the thoughts are still going around and around in my head. My initial reaction upon finishing it was complete confusion, but after a week of reflection, I think I finally understand what Sedgwick was trying to convey with this story. And the message he is trying to send is both thought-provoking and enticingly brilliant.

This is not an eas
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-dystopian
2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book.

A very mixed bag that is compiled of 4 loosely related short stories, which the author refers to as quarters. All of the stories focus, in varying degrees, on spirals and eventually the Fibonacci ratio represented in them in nature.

Each quarter had a variance in it's chapter delineations which I thought was a nice touch. Quarter 1 was roman numerals, quarter 2 was numbered and titled, quarter 3 was dated journal entries, and quarter 4 was simply numbe
Vicky N.

The spiral is the ultimate symbol of life. It is infinite. It copies itself and builds on itself, forever, like life.

The Ghosts of Heaven is a clever book about madness, life, death and above all, spirals.

Four stories separated by time. The first takes place during the prehistoric era and the last in the future. The order of the stories is just a suggestion, it can be read in any order.

This book is an experience and even if you don't like a story you can go ahead and read the next. I admit
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: must-review
My emotions towards this book are quite mixed and confusing. However I am almost positive that Marcus Sedgwick was fucking high when he wrote that first story. I'm sorry but that was the incoherent mumbling of a man tripping balls.

Review to Come.
Olivia M
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
WHHHAAATTT THE FUUCCKK!!! What! The! Fuck! Ohh myyy goddd

If you are reading this please stop what you are doing and read this book because FUCK it's so good and there are SPIRALS. This book will fuck you upppp it's so good
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Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of "The Hea ...more

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“You will never find it," his ghost says. "What?" "What you are looking for. You want to go back to the start. You want to go back to where you began. You want to find the happiness you once had. But you can never get there, because even if you somehow found it, you yourself would be different. You would have changed, from your journey alone, from the passing of time, if nothing else. You can never make it back to where you began, you can only ever climb another turn of the spiral stair. Forever.” 15 likes
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