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Ghostwalk [Hardcover]

Rebecca Stott
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Mar 2007
Set in present-day Cambridge, but entangled with the 17th century, this is at once a ghost story, a love story and a beautifully told history of 17th century Cambridge - as well as a four-hundred year-old murder mystery in which Isaac Newton is a suspect. The son of a reclusive historian finds his mother's drowned body in the tributary of the River Cam that runs through her garden. She is clutching a glass prism. Elizabeth Vogelsang's magnum opus, a book on Isaac Newton's alchemy, is incomplete. Lydia Brooke, a writer friend of the dead historian, returns to Cambridge to the funeral. It is five years since she has seen Elizabeth's son, Cameron Brown, with whom she has had an intermittent love affair that began some fifteen years earlier. Cambridge, she discovers, is in the midst of an upsurge of attacks by animal rights extremists, an unidentified group called NABED. Cameron, who, as a neuroscientist uses animal experimentation, has been targeted. Cameron asks Lydia to act as a paid ghostwriter in the completion of his mother's book, Alchemist. Lydia agrees to the proposal and moves into Elizabeth's strange house, a triangular shaped studio on the banks of the Cam. Soon Lydia finds herself entangled, not only with Cameron, but also with a four-hundred year-old murder mystery, a network of 17th century alchemists and a ghostly figure intent on disrupting her work.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition, First Printing edition (8 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297851365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297851363
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 912,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An amazing work - a highly intelligent thriller that combines the supernatural with modern quantam theory; the current war on terror with Isaac Newton's work on light and gravity, and his delving into alchemy in the seventeenth century. At once mind-boggling and mind-expanding.' Nicholas Mosley, author of Hopeful Monsters and Time at War (Nicholas Mosley )

'A beautifully written book, mixing a compelling contemporary love story and a fascinating historical investigation, with Isaac Newton and alchemy playing a crucial role. The mystery at the novel's centre is audacious, convincing, and will make readers think anew about what history is.' (Iain Pears, author of An Instance at the Fingerpost )

'This daring mystery tangles occult and scientific knowledge with obsessive love and hidden world events. It is wonderfully down to earth, and genuinely eerie. Once in, you are not likely to leave off reading until after the very last twist.' (Dr Gillian Beer )

'If you like supernatural romantic fiction you'll love GHOSTWALK...[a] complex thriller.' (SAGA (April '07) )

'Most impressive' (Peter Guttridge The Observer (15.4.07) )

'Stott's prose has...poetic brilliance...Ghostwalk is a pacy...thriller with some creepy moments.' (Victoria Brookes THE HERALD (24.3.07) )

"Stott makes fine use of historical material" (Anthony Gardner MAIL ON SUNDAY )

'An eerily compelling read' (Claire Figuero TIME OUT )

'I found it deliciously slow, gradually racheting up the tension to final violent denouement.' (HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW )

Book Description

A stunning literary ghost-story of entanglement and obsession; ambition and betrayal - set in present-day Cambridge, but entangled with the 17th century --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not great 29 Feb 2008
This has all the hallmarks of a great read for me - the mystery, the historical background, the intertwining of past and present, the scientific background and a different perspective on historical characters. I'm not overly struck on the supernatural, but it certainly wasn't a negative. However, whilst pleasantly enjoyable, it never really took off for me in the way that I had hoped and indeed expected after the opening chapter.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's actual writing, occasional glitches that have been picked up by previous reviewers aside. It was the plotting and characterisation that didn't quite work for me. She tries to pack a lot in, but almost too much given the space, never really dealing with any of the themes in sufficient depth, never really developing the characters other than, perhaps, the main protagonist herself. As a result I reached the end still expecting things to develop, still waiting for that extra depth to give the novel real bite, but finding the ending all rather obvious and flat.

Interesting that at least one previous reviewer disliked the extracts from Elizabeth's books - they were the best parts to me, as they did go someway towards telling that part of the story in the very depth that was missing elsewhere.

This wasn't a bad book - indeed, surprisingly in the light of the above perhaps, I would say on balance that it was a good read. I just felt that this showed so much promise early on, that I had expected something great, and it just didn't live up to expectations. Keep the expectations low, and I suspect one will enjoy it enormously. It may sound awfully patronising given the author's credentials compared to mine, but it will be interesting to see how she develops.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science, love, history and ghosts 12 Feb 2008
I picked this up in the bookshop, having not heard of it or the author. And I loved it. The first chapter is one of the most gripping first chapters I have read and the author did well to hold my concentration for the entire book.

It is not a simple read, but the language is wonderful and the topic fascinating - basically it is about a current day love story and Newton's fascinating with alchemy. Set in Cambridge it is evocative of the city and even though I have not visited the city for many years I could imagine myself back there.

This is one of those books that captures the imagination and asks many questions. If you liked The Conjuror's Bird and The Time Traveller's Wife then you will like this too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for relaxing 9 Nov 2011
Personally, I enjoyed this book. While reading it I accepted the ghostly, suggestive shivers and it worked for me. I was irritated by Cameron, the lover, and slightly bored with the growing animal activist angle, but overall thought it pretty good. I also live near Cambridge and that certainly did add more interest. The historical facts were intriguing and it seems to me very clever to weave a fiction around them.

However ........the more time elapses since finishing it, the more holes I find! It says little of Newton's work - you don't learn much at all. Likely there are few records available at such detail as Stott wants so she didn't want to make that part up. Some of the characters, on balance, were frankly daft - you do have to suspend some disbelief. This was fine for me during the read but drawing back make it a less credible novel. And I'm afraid I was bored by the straight extracts of Elizabeth's book .....dull.

It's always a good idea to start the book with a low expectation: you are much more likely to be pleasantly surprised as there is less to satisfy!

So to sum up, it's not a rubbish work and is worth a read - imo :)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment 18 Aug 2008
By Lady K
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read the first couple of reviews when this came up on my recommendations I was looking forward to this book with almost mouthwatering anticipation. What a let down it turned out to be. The prose is elegant and in some places very evocative of time and place- shame about the plot and characters. The main character, through whom everyone else is seen, seems to relish narrating in enigmatic half sentences. No one with whom she has contact seems quite real and several are obviously included only as plot devices to move things along without any real depth. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will enjoy this literary mystery but for me it was empty of emotion and soulless- a metaphor for the characters perhaps or vice versa. Either way it left me frustrated and even rather bored with the whole thing by the end. Too contrived to be convincing, too self-consciously literary to have real depth it only gets three stars because I liked the the descriptive passages of Cambridge and the surrounding landscape very much.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It delivers. 1 April 2007
An intensely satisfying read - you wait a long time for a novel with the plot and the prose and the ideas at the same time. It feels like '50% extra FREE' whether you approach it as a literary novel or a mystery.

The task is huge. A murder mystery and love story unfold in tandem, shot through with meditations the nature of scientific inquiry, tangled with superstition in Newton's day and big business in ours. Alchemy, glassmaking and quantum physics sit alongside supernatural elements. With so many balls in the air I was ready to forgive a shaky resolution, but found instead a complete and surprising denouement.

What makes it work is authority. The voice has the conviction to sell an audacious plot, but also the brio of a writer carving out a new space. It has crime novel tension but skips most genre conventions - readers expecting the formulaic, or suspicious of elegant prose, will leave frustrated. Those up for something different will find a slightly decadent and thoroughly original treat.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars An irritating read
I struggled through it. Poorly written and an unbelievable plot. The geography of Cambridge seems fairly accurate- for a change!
Published 7 months ago by MXJ
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
This book was choosen by a member of our book club, I found it interesting, but not an easy read
Published 14 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
The book, which was secondhand, looks like new. It arrived promptly and I am thoroughly enjoying the story - intriguing and extremely descriptive.
Published 14 months ago by JD
4.0 out of 5 stars Spine-chilling, tense and full of accurate detail this beautiful Ghost...
This beautiful, Ghost story about obsession and love will touch your heart and have you jumping in your seat when the lights are off. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lucinda
1.0 out of 5 stars annacon
I was intrigued by the premise of this book and I live in Cambridge which I believed would add another dimension for me. Read more
Published on 17 May 2010 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid at all costs
I will admit that this is not the worst book I have ever read but it comes close. I feel so relieved that I finally managed to finish it. Read more
Published on 22 Sep 2009 by H. Lacroix
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaks New Ground
This book breaks new ground in the development of novels. It has elements of historical research, a thriller, a love story, a whodunit, a science fiction and a ghost story, but it... Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2008 by I. C. Mckay
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfulfilled potential
The blurb of this novel makes it sound fascinating but I'm afraid that like some other reviewers here, having had my appetite well whetted I was left ultimately frustrated and... Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2008 by Roman Clodia
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it but not the very best.
It is well written and I liked reading about Newton. The book used the 21st century to reveal things about the 17th and 18th century. Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2008 by S
2.0 out of 5 stars Things that go clunk in the night
There is good material here - clearly well-researched - but the method of using it is flat, wooden, and at times plain risible. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2008 by Keith D. Gumery
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