Ghostwalk

( 60 )

Overview

In 2002, a Cambridge historian is found dead, floating down the river Cam, a glass prism in her hand, after researching a book about a series of suspicious circumstances surrounding Newton's appointment as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1667. That year, two Fellows died by falling down staircases, apparently drunk; another died in a field, apparently drunk; and a fourth was expelled, having gone mad–leaving vacancies for new appointments and paving the way for Newton’s extraordinary scientific ...
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Ghostwalk

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Overview

In 2002, a Cambridge historian is found dead, floating down the river Cam, a glass prism in her hand, after researching a book about a series of suspicious circumstances surrounding Newton's appointment as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1667. That year, two Fellows died by falling down staircases, apparently drunk; another died in a field, apparently drunk; and a fourth was expelled, having gone mad–leaving vacancies for new appointments and paving the way for Newton’s extraordinary scientific discoveries. When Lydia Brooke, at the request of her ex-lover, the historian’s son, steps in to finish the book, strange shows of light begin to play on the walls, and papers disappear only to reappear elsewhere. And when events escalate to murder, and Lydia’s rekindled romance appears increasingly implicated in the danger, the present becomes entangled with the seventeenth century, with Isaac Newton at the center of the mystery.

Filled with evocative descriptions of Cambridge, past and present, of seventeenth-century glassmaking, alchemy, the Great Plague, and Newton’s scientific innovations, Ghostwalk centers on a real historical mystery that Rebecca Stott has uncovered, involving Newton’s alchemy. A riveting literary thriller, Ghostwalk is a rare debut that will change the way most of us think about scientific innovation, our perception of time, and the force of history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Ghostwalk] has a scholarly authority and imaginative sparkle all too rare. . . Mesmerizing . . . Rebecca Stott . . . has accomplished something distinctively fresh.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A hypnotic brew of speculation, intrigue and murder. . . You can’t help but feel swept away.”
The Washington Post Book World

“Mesmerizing.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Truly haunting.”
New York Daily News

“Wonderfully written.”
USA TODAY

“Fiercely intelligent.”
The Los Angeles Times

“Ambitious.”
New Yorker

“Most impressive.”
The Observer (London)

“Eerily compelling.”
Time Out (London)

“Spellbinding.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Stunning.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Ron Charles
To concoct this cerebral thriller about 17th-century alchemy, Rebecca Stott grinds two parts of historical research into a fine powder, folds in some human blood, adds a pinch of the occult, and heats the mixture over an open flame. By the time Ghostwalk begins to boil, it's a hypnotic brew of speculation, intrigue and murder.
— The Washington Post
Christopher Benfey
In this mesmerizing first novel, Stott, a historian of science at Anglia Ruskin University in England, has drawn on the traditional resource of historical fiction to fill tantalizing gaps in the archival record. Like Matthew Pearl in The Poe Shadow, she attempts to shed new light on the mysterious circumstances of a long-cold case.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

British historian Stott makes a stunning debut with this hypnotic and intelligent thriller, the first fiction release of a new Random House imprint. The mysterious drowning death of Elizabeth Vogelsang, a Cambridge University scholar who was almost finished writing a controversial biography of Isaac Newton, leads her son, Cameron Brown, to recruit Lydia Brooke, his former lover, to complete the book. That request plunges Brooke into probing two ostensibly separate series of murders: one in the 17th century claimed the lives of several who stood between Newton and the fellowship he needed to continue his studies at Cambridge; the other in the present day appears to target those who have offended a radical animal rights group. Brooke's work may be haunted by a ghost from Newton's time who guides her to a radical reinterpretation of the role of alchemy and the supernatural in Newton's life. Much more than a clever whodunit, this taut, atmospheric novel with its twisty interconnections between past and present will leave readers hoping Stott has many more stories in her future. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
In Stott's fiction debut (Darwin and the Barnacle, 2003, etc.), writer Lydia Brooke agrees to complete the unfinished manuscript left behind by her former lover's dead mother, and she enters a world where the dead do not go gently into the night. Cambridge University's Trinity College provides the setting for this spellbinding tale that intertwines a dark 17th-century journey with the present. Lydia, a successful writer, returns to Cambridge to attend the funeral of Elizabeth Vogelsang, whose fascination with Sir Isaac Newton led her to write a potentially controversial book about the scientific and mathematical genius. But Elizabeth's investigation into Newton's life and his practice of alchemy has gone wrong. Found dead in the river with a prism clutched in her hand, Elizabeth leaves behind a meticulously researched manuscript, missing its final chapter. Cameron Brown, Elizabeth's brilliant neuroscientist son and Lydia's former lover, compels Lydia to ghostwrite the last chapter and finish his mother's book. Drawn to both Cameron and the project, Lydia acquiesces and moves into Elizabeth's cottage, with its strange, unexplained lights and colors that appear to come from nowhere. Here she meets an odd girl named Will and an even odder friend of Elizabeth's who claims to speak with the dead. Lydia also pursues a relationship with the married Cameron, who is stalked by a violent animal-rights group that objects to his use of laboratory animals. Stott embroils Lydia in a past steeped in the mysticism of alchemy and plagued by black ambition. Intrigue from Newton's past creeps into the present, eventually sweeping both Lydia and Cameron into a series of climactic events suspended somewherebetween life and death. Stott's compelling style acts as a counterpoint to the scientific and historical components of this haunting literary mystery/thriller. Stott skillfully binds fact with fiction in an insightful story that surprises and intrigues. Agent: Faith Evans/Faith Evans Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385521079
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/3/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 462,306
  • Product dimensions: 7.92 (w) x 5.08 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

REBECCA STOTT is professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. She is the author of a biography Darwin and the Barnacle and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio. She lives in Cambridge, England. This is her first novel.
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Read an Excerpt

One

Over the last two years, as I have tried to tease out the truths from the untruths in that series of events that seeped out through Elizabeth's death, like lava moving upwards and outwards through salt water from a tear in the seabed, I have had to be you several times, Cameron Brown, in order to claw myself towards some kind of coherence. Sometimes it was—is—easy to imagine the world through your eyes, terribly possible to imagine walking through the garden that afternoon in those moments before you found your mother's body in the river. After all, for a long time, all that time we were lovers, it was difficult to tell where your skin ended and mine began. That was part of the trouble for Lydia Brooke and Cameron Brown. Lack of distance became—imperceptibly—a violent entanglement.

So this is for you, Cameron, and yes, it is also for me, Lydia Brooke, because perhaps, in putting all these pieces together properly, I will be able to step out from your skin and back into mine.

Alongside Elizabeth’s body floating in red in the river, there are other places where this story needs to start, places I can see now but wouldn't have seen then, other beginnings which were all connected. Another death, one that took place around midnight on the 5th of January, 1665. That night, Richard Greswold, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, had opened a door onto a dark, unlit landing above a staircase in Trinity. A draught caught the flame from the lamp in his hand, twisting and elongating the shadows around him. As a thin stream of blood began to trickle from one, then both of his nostrils, he raised the back of his hand and wiped it across his cheek, smearing the blood into streaks, and fell forward, very slowly, into air, through the palest of moon shadows cast through casement windows. He fell heavily, his body twisting and beating against the steps and walls. The lamp fell too and bounced, making a metallic counterpoint to the thuds of flesh on wood. By morning the blood from the wound on Richard Greswold’s head had run through and across the uneven cracks of the stone flagging on which he died, making a brown map like the waterways across the Fens to the north, the college porter said, prying a key—the key to the garden—from the dead man’s clenched fist. Encrusted blood, as thick as fen mud.

Greswold’s death was bound up with Elizabeth’s. She came to know that before she died, but we didn’t. Two Cambridge deaths, separated by three centuries, but inseparable, shadowing each other. Richard Greswold. Elizabeth Vogelsang.

Elizabeth Vogelsang drowned in September, 2002, the first of three deaths that would become the subject of a police investigation four months later. The police took a ragged testimony from me, which I gave in answer to the questions they asked and which were recorded on tape in a windowless room in the basement of the Parkside Police Station by a Detective Sergeant Cuff on the 16th of January, 2003.

“All the interview rooms are occupied this morning, Dr. Brooke,” he said, struggling to find the right key as I followed him down grey corridors. “So we’ll have to use the central investigation room. I’m afraid it’s not ideal, but it is at least empty this morning. There’s a staff training morning—health and safety. We have about an hour. This is not a formal interview, you understand. We’ll do that later. Just a chat.”

“I don’t know whether what I have to tell you will take an hour,” I said. My nerves were jangled. I wasn’t sleeping. I was still waking in the middle of the night angry with you, and with me, but I had enough self–possession to know that I would have to be careful and alert here at the Parkside Police Station. Very alert. They had arrested Lily Ridler.

“We will have to see you again, Dr. Brooke, without doubt. You will be central to our enquiries.”

That’s how I came to see another version, their version. Well, not quite see, but glimpse. The central investigation room at the Parkside Police Station was filled with filing cabinets and four desks with exaggerated curves sweeping in different directions; over to the right, a magnetic whiteboard ran the length of one entire windowless wall. Cuff pulled up a swivel chair for me on the other side of his desk, carefully clearing away papers and notes into a drawer and locking it. A collection of objects and photographs had been attached to the whiteboard with magnets. Curled around those objects were a series of questions, names, lists, and arrows in coloured marker pens in different hands. I couldn’t see very much from where I was sitting, so when Cuff went to retrieve a file from another room, I slipped the digital camera out of my briefcase and photographed it. A risky act driven by nothing but a terrible, bereaved curiosity.

A white magnetic board written on in different hands in different colours and a series of photographs—three dead bodies, one woman drowned in a red coat, two men with their faces slashed, a wall of graffiti, several photographs of mutilated cats and horses, the house at Landing Lane, a photograph of Lily Ridler next to some other people I didn't recognise—animal activists, I assume—and a photograph of a pile of shredded paper. When I call up the photo on my laptop and increase the resolution I can pick out details. If you go close enough you can just see that the blue pen lists two of the murder scenes: Staircase E of Trinity College and St. Edward’s Passage. And if you go very close, right up into the right–hand corner—it took me a while to spot this—there’s a photograph of me next to a photograph of Sarah. It was the photograph of me that you carried in your mobile phone, filed away carefully, so that no one would find it. The one you took on Holkham Beach. They must have gone through all the files in your mobile to find that. Underneath someone had written my name. Lydia Brooke.

Yes, that whiteboard was the sketchy beginning of the police version of what came to be known as the Cambridge murders. Murders that would be discussed in Parliament and produced as evidence to support proposed draconian measures in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, and which were finally instrumental in changing British law. Yes, we were making legal history but, of course, we didn't know that then.

That first conversation did take the best part of an hour because Cuff had so many questions about my relationship with you, what I had been doing in Elizabeth’s house, how I had come to know the family, when I had last seen you, what we had talked about, what you had been wearing, and the context for that message I left on your phone. Cuff, who affected a relaxed nonchalance composed, I guessed, to make me drop my guard, summarised my answers and wrote them all out on lined police paper before reading them back to me in a continuous story, which he had somehow made from my fragmented answers. I signed it as a “true account.”

A few months later I tried to put together a more coherent description for the lawyer representing Lily Ridler in the court case. She asked me to write down everything I remembered that might have been relevant to the case, from Elizabeth’s funeral to the days of the trial. I had no ambivalence then about its truth or about its beginning and ending. That came later. I typed it out in Kit’s study looking down over the summer garden, two hours a day, until it seemed about right. Although it read sequentially, I didn’t write it sequentially. Memory doesn’t work like that. I kept remembering things as I wrote, things I had thought until then were inconsequential, which might have been “relevant,” so I went back and tucked them into the story—little details, thoughts, surmisings, speculations.

I’ve always wondered how the two stories—the ragged one I put together in answer to Cuff’s questions and the one I wrote in Kit’s study for Patricia Dibb—ended up being so different. It wasn’t as if I falsified anything. For the police my story was only part of a much bigger narrative, made up of perhaps twenty witness accounts, so the prosecution knitted together all those reports and circumstantial evidence in chronological order, and bit by bit against and between them, my story got pulled in several directions. When set together with all those others, my story took on a different shape, and it was the composite version, filtered, dragged, and kneaded, that the jury agreed to. It was pretty damning once they'd finished with it, damning enough to convict Lily Ridler of murder and send her to prison for the rest of her life. A tight story, she said to me the last time I saw her. Impenetrable now. A closed case.

The story kept on changing. When the court issued a press statement and the newspapers distilled it back down to the size they wanted, with all the appropriately dramatic, suspenseful moments, it fitted neatly into columns of small type. One journalist even made a time line of events in which the two murders were simply a notch in the straight passing of time through Lily’s life, like a single–track train with stations that began with her birth and ended with her arrest. She was charged with three murders and sixteen acts of unlawful animal killing and mutilation, but because they couldn’t pin Elizabeth’s death on her, she was convicted of only two murders. Once they’d added those killings to the time line and filled in the details about her grandfather and her parents, Lily Ridler had become a psychopath, a monster. Now, nearly two years later, Lily is dead.

So if we thought it was finished, we know it isn’t now. The ghosts have not been laid to rest after all, you see, not yours and not hers. If they were to question me again I think I would have to say that I see it differently now—the connections, I mean. Time does that. There were missing parts then, a historical dimension that no one asked any questions about and which, then, I could only half see.

What was missing? The seventeenth century. But how do you say that to a policeman who has just switched on his tape recorder to record the words “Parkside Police Station, 16 January, 2003, interview with Dr. Lydia Brooke”? How do you say, “There’s a missing witness account and a missing suspect…Sergeant Cuff, the seventeenth century is missing. And you need to talk to a man called Mr. F.”

How do you tell him that you think there’s a link between a female scholar found drowned in a river in Cambridge and a man who fell down a staircase nearby three hundred years earlier? Not a simple causal relationship but something as delicate as a web, one of those fine white skeins you see around the tips of grass stems in the spring when the dew is heavy.

A crow has just flown off my study roof, launched itself into the air to my left down over the garden, just as the right–hand corner of my map of Cambridge has curled itself noisily away from the wall. The syncopated sounds of the scurrying of crow’s feet on roof tiles and the curling of old paper is enough to make one think that there might be something else in the room beside me as I write. Which of you restless people is it? What do you want with my story?

No. If Elizabeth were here she would say that history is less like a skein of silk and more like a palimpsest—time layered upon time so that one buried layer leaks into the one above. Or like a stain in an old stone wall that seeps through the plaster.

What would Cuff have said or done if I had told him that he needed to know about the man who fell down the stairs of Trinity College on the 5th of January 1665, the fall that stained the floor, the stain that leaked through Elizabeth’s life and Lily’s, that held us all together, in thrall? Cuff would not have known the significance of the date—1665—or at least I don’t think he would have done. Perhaps 1666 would have rung some bells: the year the Great Plague abated in England and the Fire of London ravaged the capital in its wake. He might have remembered that from his secondary school history classes.

If I had told Cuff about Greswold and about Isaac Newton’s complicated friendship with a Mr. F., he wouldn't have written any of it down. He wouldn’t have considered it relevant. A man falling through air and shadows in Trinity College, 1665. A secret friendship between two young men, forged in alchemical and mathematical calculations. How could that have any bearing on a series of murders in Cambridge that took place in 2002 and 2003? If I had suggested that, Cuff would have raised one of his thick black eyebrows and his pen would have paused in midair. Elizabeth Vogelsang would have understood. Cuff wouldn’t.

Lily went to prison because the seventeenth century was missing from her court records, from her story. Her time line needed to be longer, much longer, and there were many sidelines and tracks, twistings and turnings and yes, it was a labyrinth, a skein of silk that began to weave itself in 1665, 339 years ago.

I’ve been thinking about labyrinths this summer. Ariadne giving Theseus the thread so that he could find his way back out of the labyrinth, away from the black void of the flesh–eating Minotaur. Unravellings have to start somewhere. Now that I see, for the first time, how connected everything is, I know that the threads between Isaac Newton and us were all attached, like the ground elder under Kit’s soil.

That summer in which I wrote my story and yours for Patricia Dibb, Kit and I declared war on the ground elder that had taken over her flower beds at Sturton Street. As we began to dig, we could see how each of those separate plants, uncurling above ground, was joined to a great network of root systems underground. There was no point in digging up part of it; you had to pull up the whole thing, and if you didn't, it would start reaching out again in the wet darkness of the soil, another green leaf curling up a week or so later. Grace, Kit’s elderly neighbour, leaning over the chicken wire fence, uttered her warnings about the impossibility of ever killing it off. She had spent fifty years trying, she said. Break those roots just once, she said, and the wound on the root will make scores of new shoots.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

A Cambridge historian, Elizabeth Vogelsang, is found drowned, clutching a glass prism in her hand. The book she was writing about Isaac Newton’s involvement with alchemy—the culmination of her lifelong obsession with the seventeenth century—remains unfinished. When her son, Cameron, asks his former lover, Lydia Brooke, to ghostwrite the missing final chapters of his mother’s book, Lydia agrees and moves into Elizabeth’s house—a studio in an orchard where the light moves restlessly across the walls. Soon Lydia discovers that the shadow of violence that has fallen across present-day Cambridge, which escalates to a series of murders, may have its origins in the troubling evidence that Elizabeth’s research has unearthed. As Lydia becomes ensnared in a dangerous conspiracy that reawakens ghosts of the past, the seventeenth century slowly seeps into the twenty-first, with the city of Cambridge the bridge between them.

Filled with evocative descriptions of Cambridge, past and present, of seventeenth-century glassmaking, alchemy, the Great Plague, and Newton’s scientific innovations, Ghostwalk centers around a real historical mystery that Rebecca Stott has uncovered involving Newton’s alchemy. In it, time and relationships are entangled—the present with the seventeenth century, and figures from the past with the love-torn twenty-first century woman who is trying to discover their secrets. A stunningly original display of scholarship and imagination, and a gripping story of desire and obsession, Ghostwalk is a rare debut that will change the way most of us think about scientific innovation, the force ofhistory, and time itself.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2009

    Not what I expected

    I guess I may be different from the other reviewers on my take of the book. While I thought it was well written, to me it was just all about this woman's obsession with a married man and her affair with him. I was hoping for a good ghost story involving Newton with some science and history mixed in, but it just keep going over and over this woman's fixation with this man - how dull. To me there was very little science, some history, and only a smidge of a ghost story. If I wanted to read something about an affair and how it affects a woman's life, I would pick up a Daniel Steele book or something - which I won't. Great idea for a book just this one fell well short.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2007

    The Ghost of Isaac Newton Still Haunts the Cobble-Stoned Streets of Cambridge

    A spate of killings terrorize Cambridge, and an extremist animal rights group is blamed. However, one woman who seeks the truth has fallen so deeply into this mystery that she can predict, to the day, when each murder will take place and the circumstances in which the victim will be found. Writer Lydia Brooke returns to Cambridge to attend the funeral of her dear friend and mentor, Elizabeth Vogelsangs. While there, she is asked by Elizabeth¿s son to complete what would have been Elizabeth¿s crowning achievement: an in-depth portrait of Isaac Newton the Alchemist. Although reluctant, Lydia agrees and becomes involved in a murder mystery that has spanned over three hundred years. Can Lydia solve the mystery before someone she truly cares about is killed, or will she realize that these events must take place and there is nothing she can do to stop them? Ghostwalk is a ghost story without the cheap thrills, with an intriguing plot that steadily builds pace throughout the story and characters who are interesting and equipped with enough human frailties that the reader can empathize with them. As stated previously, this book lacks the cheap thrills or dramatic scares that usually riddle this genre (it will not keep you up at night listening to every creak wondering if it is the ghost of Isaac Newton out to get ya.) Instead, it is a very subtle book ¿ there is no haunted mansion residing on a cliff¿s edge and no obvious or visible monsters, but surely subtlety is something which should be commended in this genre. I recommend Ghostwalk to anyone who enjoys good literary fiction with a touch of history thrown in. I do not recommend it to anyone who likes a nice, neat ending with all their questions answered. This novel will leave you wondering about the final outcome, and everyone¿s interpretation of the story will be different.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    A Gripping Psychological Thriller

    We listened to the audiobook version on a long trip, made short by the suspense, and yes, science. Even now, 72 hours after the the conclusion, I am still caught in the light of the studio, waiting for Cameron's footstep on the garden path. I cannot wait for Dr. Stott's next novel to appear.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    gripping

    As a huge fan of historical fiction, I couldn't put this book down. It was beautifully written and compelling all throughout.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    Gripping Mystery

    I found this book extremely difficult to put down. The characterization was vivid and the story riveting. Every time I thought I had the story figured out, I turned a page and discovered I was wrong. This is well worth the read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2007

    Too much science, not enough thrill

    I was hoping for a ghost story with a steady but entrancing chill. Instead, this book circles around Isaac Newton, his scientific studies, and the company he kept. I kept waiting for the story to grab me, to thrill and impress me, but it was like hearing the story from a friend who'd heard it from their friend: there was just too much distance from the narrator to get fully involved.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Good Story

    Spooky. Interesting characters. Rich setting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    I tried to like this book....

    I was expecting alot more from this book. Like the other reviewer, there was way too much science in this book instead of a mystery. If I wanted to learn about Newton and his experiments I would have gotten I biography. I was sick of reading about the science and just wanted to read the story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Good start, but lost vigor in the middle

    This novel sounded intriguing, especially with the description of Issac Newton's mysterious life. The book started off interesting, with the plot moving quickly in spite of the lovely, detailed descriptions of the lake house, but after the first few chapters, I lost interest. Although there was plenty of intrigue, there was little action to go along with it. I also thought it was interesting that Cameron, the murdered writer's son and Lydia had such an entangled past, but once the author detailed their past relationship, there were hardly any further interactions, at least not any significant moments. I found the relationship with the afterlife and ghosts very vague, and once Lydia tried to contact someone to assist her who was experienced in the occult or spiritualism, the older lady whom she consulted was not very likable. To sum it up, the book seemed to be torn between character-driven plot and scholarly repetitions. Perhaps if the author had relied more on other characters, like Cameron, the story would have progressed better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Well..it was original...

    I really enjoyed the writing style and thought the plot was original...I felt the parts dealing with Elizabeth's writing on Newton was way too tedious to read - I just thought those parts didn't need to be that involved and the plot could have been developed more. As far as Lydia and Cameron....I felt like giving them both a good smack - they were way too full of themselves and pretty shallow people that quite frankly, were pretty selfish individuals. Stotts writing style saved the novel....but the "spirit world" was just too much and too far fetched for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    could have been as intriguing as the cover

    By godness, it is a slow read. I am on page 160 and still waiting for something to happen.... despite the plot itself seems to be very unique and intriguing. I will update the review when (if?) I finish it. If you are looking for a good historical thriller or fiction, Rosetti Letter or Brotheren/Crusede/The Fall of the Templars are much faster and better reads.

    So I'm back. I finished it but am sorry to say that the best part of the book was its cover; the rest did not measure up to it. The topic was original and seemingly very intriguing. While Ms. Stott beautifully presented the physical surroundings of the story (particulary that of the light), the worst flow of the book was the character development, both of those from the past and the present. I hardly cared for the love affair of the protagonist and it was unfortunate that it had to play out as the background (or foreground rather) of the entire story. I wish Ms. Stott had focused more on the essence of the alchemy Newton practiced (by going into further details; I was particularly hoping that she would go deep into the nature of the spirituality of his version of alchemy) and developed the story around it. I think I kept turning pages in the hope that this would happen at some point. The book is hardly a page turner. If you are looking for one, this is a very slow book. If you are seeking to see the depth of Newton's alchemy, this story only touches the surface. It is a shame that Ms. Stott must have had all the tools to satisfy her readers in this department with. Having said that. every reader approaches a book with different expectations; some people might have found this book satisfying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Story

    I read this book on vacation last year and found myself really drawn into it. I had a hard time putting it down. I wouldn't say it was the best book I've ever read, but it was an interesting read, it held my attention and it was ultimately enjoyable. I think the concept is unusual and the stuff about Isaac Newton was pretty cool. Despite the mixed reviews, I recommend giving it a try.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

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    Kept my interest all the way. Kept my interest all the way.

    My neighbor gave me this book to read. Knowing that I truly respect and admire one of the greatest scientists that ever lived, Sir Isaac Newton. Well, I jumped at the chance to read a story where Newton was given a role, maybe even center stage. Needless to say I never became bored with this book. The author created a great tale blending the new world with olden times of Newton. It was very apparent that Ms. Scott did a tremendous amount of research into the subject matter, which I appreciated.
    I enjoyed the book and it kept my interest all the way until the last page.

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  • Posted July 25, 2010

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    I had a love/hate relationship with this book.

    I enjoyed the historical and ghostly elements the most, in fact that's what kept me going through the book. I wish there were more history and ghosts, and less Lydia and Cameron. I thought Cameron was nothing more than an ass, and Lydia was dumb as a doornail. I guess the fact that I have such feelings for these two characters is kudos to Rebecca Stott. I've seen The DaVinci Code referenced in many reviews for Ghostwalk, and I think that's a shame. I read the DaVinci Code, and I don't feel ...more I enjoyed the historical and ghostly elements the most, in fact that's what kept me going through the book. I wish there were more history and ghosts, and less Lydia and Cameron. I thought Cameron was nothing more than an ass, and Lydia was dumb as a doornail. I guess the fact that I have such feelings for these two characters is kudos to Rebecca Stott. I've seen The DaVinci Code referenced in many reviews for Ghostwalk, and I think that's a shame. I read the DaVinci Code, and I don't feel these two books should be compared. You're dealing with apples and oranges here.

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  • Posted June 3, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Illusions for the Fragile Eye

    "This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being." -Sir Isaac Newton

    A suspenseful tale twisting in and out of the seventeenth century and modern-day England. No topic is safe as alchemy, animal liberation, psychics, bio-terrorism, and neuroscience are all targets of Rebecca Stott's spot on historiography, using facts to create a fiction. The protagonist, Lydia Brooke, must make monsters out of men and illusion of out reality to uncover the myth of Isaac Newton: man, mystic, and maniac.

    With a rich vocabulary and keen insight to details, Rebacca Stott trails a romance troubled by murder and illusion. At times, the text gets a bit dense with scholarly language, forgetting its literary audience. With a narrative in not only first and third-person, the second-person dialect disjoints the reader from the subjects on display. The campy dialogue and sappy syntax unfortunately overshadows the brilliant ideas and connections made through masterfully artful language. No matter the ineffective element overseen by editors, the story is nonetheless entertaining, drawing from chapter to chapter with a curiosity pleasantly surprised by the ending result. Rare treasures seldom are published with a magnificent blend of scholarly research and creative genius. Definitely a book to pass on to friends, but possibly not one to wear a worn seam from repeated reading.

    Follow my book reviews at: http://thetornpage-areadersjournal.blogspot.com/

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Good for a quick read

    "Ghostwalk" originally caught my eye on the 'Publisher's Remainders' table at my local B&N--when I found out that it was a historical mystery with a touch of the supernatural, I decided to give it a try, since I have enjoyed books with similar premises previously. While "Ghostwalk" is by no means the worst book I've ever read, it's certainly not the best, but that's not to say it wasn't worth my four hours. The descriptions of Cambridge (England) were vivid, and as an Anglophile, I found myself wanting to be there along with the protagonist, searching the streets of Cambridge for clues. The characters were great--Stott creates memorable characters in the glass-eyed psychic and the narrator's hippy-sque best friend, Kit--and served as an anchor for the entire book. One element of the novel that I actively resisted was the insertion of the supernatural: keep in mind that I am usually gaga over the supernatural in a work. It's just that Stott is out of her realm when she tries to combine Newton's supernatural appearances with that of the 21st century characters. Stott obviously knows a lot about Cambridge, and a lot about Newton, but she's not a writer of ghost stories (or stories that center around the presence of ghosts--see Roslyn Domingue's "The Mercy of Thin Air" for what I see as a much better melding of past/present/ghosts/humans).

    In parts, I felt as if I were reading Stott's (slightly fictionalized) thesis on Newton: as an academic myself (and recent thesis writer), I greatly respect the knowledge that this woman holds on Newton's early life. She's definitely done her research! If I wanted to read a thesis on Newton, I would--I wish that she had more effectively combined the non-fiction/fiction elements, as they seem clunky (much as the insertion of ghosts into this otherwise very non-metaphysical tale does).

    For historical mysteries that rely heavily on academics and research, I would recommend "The Historian," "Hawksmoor" or "The Thirteenth Tale," as both use the same elements as "Ghostwalk," only to a better end result.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Things aren't always as they seem...

    Just as a prism fragments what is perceived as simple white light into it's myriad complex components, the many shadings of this story layer fact and fantasy, past and present. History lesson, love story, murder mystery all presented with a respect for the readers intelligence and willingness to suspend what is believed to be fact; opening the possibility for even time to be fragmented. There is a subtlety in the revelations of character and plot sometimes requiring patience, but all will be revealed; the various stories connected and some implications left open for interpretation.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    not impressed

    'nuff said.

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  • Posted May 2, 2010

    Worth a read if you like history, science, mystery, ghost stories, romance, or drama!

    There were only two parts to this book that I didn't love, but they were major- the first being that it took a good 40 pages or so for the story to "grab" me. Once I got there, I didn't want to put it down, but the initial experience was not all that enjoyable.
    The second thing I didn't love was how the author chose to end the story-we all know if we don't love an ending, it kind of ruins the whole thing!
    I loved the originality of the plotline, I loved the main character and her struggles/insights and ultimate "choice" to stay in a bad situation- I think a good number of readers, myself included, can strongly identify with that, the idea of being "stuck", but still following a path that seems almost pre-determined.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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