Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty kPeople who talk like that are characters in a bad novel written by an author who doesn tnow how to create genuine suspense Utter fiasco If you re looking for a creepy October read this is not it 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 nowHowever 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 I expected a fascinating ghost story literary with mysterious murders and the past coming back to haunt Intelligent and historical yes And it s full of atmospheric descriptions that I liked However the main character Lydia Brooke speaking in the first p 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 seventeenth century alchemists and Elizabeth s notes and manuscript show that she believes that a series of seventeenth century deaths are entangled with current happenings While working on his mother s book Lydia becomes involved with Cameron Brown again and she uickly becomes aware that he is caught up in a dangerous situation with animal rights activists groups because of his work in a pharmaceutical lab As mysterious and dangerous events start to unfold Lydia isn t certain whether they are a result of a connection with the seventeenth century alchemists or Cameron s work This sounded like and could have been a really great book but it just wasn t I thought it started off really slow and it took half of the book for me to become interested After I finally did become engrossed in the book I didn t like anything that happened Other than that the characters were not particularly likeable The main character Lydia Brooke came across to me as a very weak individual She had been in a go nowhere relationship with a married man for many years but finally left him It doesn t take than seeing him once before she is renewing her relationship with him Even when she finds out that he is heavily involved in a very disturbing organization she has trouble deciding what to do or to think about him As for her lover Cameron he came across as very selfish and self absorbed He had a wife and children yet had a long term affair with Lydia After Lydia left he had at least one other affair Lydia catches him in lies continuously and often hears him lie to his wife on the phone Cameron was also apparently heavily involved in an organization that instigated horrific acts Even disliking Cameron I hated what happened to himMost of the book was told in the first person in the form of a letter from Lydia to Cameron but there were parts that were supposed to be the chapters of Elizabeth s book Her book was nonfiction and those parts just didn t seem to fit well in a fiction novel These book inside of a book excerpts were hard to read because they were too long and not particularly interesting I
believe that this book had great potential but it wasn t realized and fell flat The research in this that this book had great potential but it wasn t realized and fell flat The research in this is great as well as the writing in the book about Isaac Newton within this story In fact the Newton book
have been story That would have made a great book with all these elements alchemists secret formulas brilliant young Newton beginning to figure out among other things calculus and differential EUATIONS LOVELY STUFF PATRONAGE FACTIONS NEPOTISM lovely stuff patronage factions nepotism series of uestionable deaths Why did the author waste her time writing a pointless story with annoying characters in the present when she could have speculated away in all sorts of fantastic and fantastical ways about the goings in in Cambridge amongst alchemists in the 1660s One of my ghostly reads for October Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott was enjoyable It is uniuely written a story within a story unfortunately the inside story involves Sir Isaac Newton the great scientific discoverer I do not have a scientific heart SorryThere is a love story an affair with a married man if that is a love story suspicious deaths scientific use of animals a mysticseer and many references to physics which I didn t understand The basic plot was good with surprises twists and much much much historical atmosphere I can understand why it disappointed many readers but I stayed drawn in and focused throughout I ve certainly read worse 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 genreIn 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 century creeping into the present as mysterious deaths mirror the deaths of Newton s contemporariesIt s not exactly a murder mystery Ghostwalk focuses on Lydia s own entanglements with her ex lover and his dead mother than it does on the victims The narration is lyrical the entire novel is Lydia speaking to her ex lover referring to him in the second person The result is dark moody and dreamy There are also chunks of the Newton biography included providing interesting details about the scientist s lifeMany other reviews mark it down for reuiring a suspension of disbelief but they seem to miss the point that this is a ghost story did they not read the title I really enjoyed how subtly the two eras collide and things were just creepy enough without being sensational Ghostwalk is one of those impressive debut novels that makes one look forward to the author s next boo. 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. ,should have been
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 is told in the 1st person by a woman who attends a funeral for a woman who died while writing a book on Isaac Newton not exactly an attention grabber introduction The narrator apparentl THis is the best book that I have ever read that I could only rate two stars I loved Neal Stephenson s Baroue 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 seventeenth century Europe the plague in England the vast networks of alchemists operating in Europe at the time One of the major themes of the novel is that the past bleeds into the present but the author can t seem to get her many plot devices set in the present to bleed into one another making the novel as a whole fractured and nearly incomprehesible In the end the author had to through in some secret shadow empire of pharmaceutical companies and arms dealers into the mix a device that was not necessary to the plot of the novel or perhaps was thrown in because she couldn t find an end and didn t add anything except maybe a political jab at arms dealers and pharmaceutical companies This novel had so much promise but it failed for its lack of cohesion the lack of empathy engendered in the reader for the characters and the waste of all of that great historical conspiracy in favor of modern ones 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 blatherBut enough nit picking on the review The novel takes place in contemporary Cambridge where Lydia Brooke s intermittent lover a controversial neuroscientist asks her to finish his mother s book after she mysteriously drowns in the river The book is a study of Newton s alchemy that purports to explain how he resorted crime to attain a fellowship in his college Yes this is ind of a spoiler but you d figure this out uickly on your own Meanwhile an animal rights group is launching terrorist attacks against the neuroscientist and his associates and ghosts are trying to communicate with Lydia about events Well that was different In theory this book should have been my jam The story opens with Elizabeth Vogelsang being found dead in a river near her Cambridge home clutching a glass prism in her hand Elizabeth is a 17th Century Scholar Who Specializes In Isaac century scholar who specializes in Isaac and her death interrupts her work on a book exploring Newton s interest in alchemy Elizabeth s son Cameron recruits Lydia Brooke a writer friend of Elizabeth and Cameron s former lover to ghost write the rest of Elizabeth s book Along the way Lydia tries to unravel the secrets in Elizabeth s research secrets that might have led to her death I m going to go ahead and get the most absurd thing about this book out of the way first so we can acknowledge it and move on Okay so you want to A Study in Scandal (Scandalous know whoilled Elizabeth right The book is set up like a murder mysteryhistoric fictionsupernatural mashup so you now the solution to the murder is going to be good ReadyA ghost did it The murderer is literally a ghost don t worry we ll a ghost Don t worry we ll back to that I just wanted to give everyone a vague idea of where this crazy train is headed because that s than Rebecca Stott did for meuick note I purchased this book secondhand however it s still an ARC so all uoted passages may be different in the final published versionI started to sense that something was wrong by the first chapter After a prologue where we see Elizabeth s body being found by her son Chapter One begins from Lydia s perspective She describes the days after Elizabeth s death and then suddenly we re in a police interrogation room and Lydia s narration informs us that Elizabeth Vogelsang drowned in September 2002 the first of three deaths that would become the subject of a police investigation four months laterOkay let s take a minute to sort that out because there s a lot of information there So the book isn t going to focus just on Elizabeth s death but also two other people Presumably we will meet these people at some point in the narrative and grow to care about them and their deaths will be appropriately placed in the narrative to maintain suspense yes to the first sort of to the second nope to the third Also since the police investigation happens four months after Elizabeth s death we ve got a relatively short time frame to work with And Lydia will be very close to
these deaths Okay coolBut then only a few paragraphs later Stott dropsdeaths Okay coolBut then only a few paragraphs later Stott drops on us I would have to be careful and alert here at the Parkside Police Station Very alert They had arrested Lily RidlerThat line comes seven pages into the novel It is the first time that Lily Ridler is mentioned and it will be way way too long before she s mentioned again in fact until I flipped back to the beginning of the book to look for uotes I had completely forgotten that they mention this character by name so early By the time we figure out who this character is and why we should care I had already stopped caringSuspense novels are tricky because you have to eep your audience invested without showing too many of your cards at once Rebecca Stottt has the entire story of Ghostwalk mapped out in her head already but she forgets that her reader. 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 alchemyA Cambridge historian Elizabeth Vogelsang is found drowned clutching a glass prism in her hand The book she was writing ab. Doesn t She goes so overboard with the exposition and the but little did I The One Who Stays (Summer Island, know foreshadowing that the reader gets overwhelmed and can t figure out what they should be paying attention to for later Lydiaeeps giving us these descriptions from the police station and the courtroom but it s so disconnected from everything else that s happening in the story that by the time I had put together all the important details from the investigation I no longer cared Stott thinks she s prolonging the tension but by so insistently teasing the ending all she s doing is frustrating the reader and distracting from the real time events in the story If I had to pinpoint the central issue in this book it s that Stott is trying to do too many things at once There s the murder mystery and then there s a pretty heavy supernatural element I think Stott was going for a Gothic ghost story Shadow of the Wolf (Hearts Desire, kind of thing but the first instance of it is clumsy and jarring Lydia goes to Elizabeth s funeral and meets a woman with one blind eye who says things like Oh but Elizabeth is still here I haven t seen her yet but she s here all right The others are here too Don t you feel them Maybe it was my fault for notnowing what Smijurija u mjerama kind of book this was going to be when I started but I could never get into the Gothic mindset that Stott is trying so hard to create I can t really put my finger on why the supernatural element didn t work for me it was either taken too seriously or not seriously enough On the one hand if you re going to write a book about a ghost who murders people why not have some fun with it Indulge in the overblown melodramatic creepiness of your story and go for gold like The Shadow of the Wind At the same time no one in the book seems at all bothered by the fact that they re clearly being haunted Lydia who is staying in Elizabeth s house while she finishes her book notices weird light patterns like reflecting water on the walls of the house And one morning after spending the night with her on again boyfriend Cameron we ll get there don t worry she wakes up and sees that he has blood all over his face And both of their reactions don t go any farther than Huh that s weird And later after Lydia washes the pillowcase the bloodstain comes back She burns the pillowcase but there s no other discernable reaction as if shit like this happens all the time in this universe and it s not something to get worked up over The characters most of whom are scientists and scholars accept the reality of psychics and ghosts with no reservation whatsoever and I was not having it Maybe I would have been receptive to the Ghost Murderers From History angle if it were the main plotline in the book but alas the ghost murders have to fight for space alongside another plotline that is somehow even ridiculous ReadyOkay so Cameron mother of Elizabeth recall is a scientist at a pharmaceutical company The company tests on animals and there s a radical animal rights group that is so radical they attack another scientist and also have a habit of murdering scientists pets UICK BREAK FOR AN ANGRY TANGENT Yeah the animal rights group steals people s pets andills them I thought Stott was letting me off easy when Cameron tells Lydia that his daughters pet guinea pigs were Speer killed so his wife is taking the girls out of Cambridge to get away from things That s fine I thought we ve established that this activist group is dangerous and it also gets Cameron s family out of the picture so he and Lydia can bang But I had forgotten dear reader that Elizabeth also has a cat A cat that Lydia is now responsible for Guess what shows up dead on her doorstep one day Guess what injuries get described in detail Guess who spends a hefty amount of text speculating on the cat s terrifying last momentsIt was gratuitous and unnecessary and Iind of hate Rebecca Stott for making me read it I am not the sort of person to put trigger warnings on things but I would warn anyone planning to read this book that the cat s death is detailed upsetting this book that the cat s death is detailed upsetting utterly pointlessAnyway back to the plot overload We ve got the animal activists and at the end of the book we find out that there s this shady government group called I shit you not the Syndicate and they are actually the ones who created the activist group to discredit the real activists And guess who s in charge of this evil corporation Cameron obviouslyHey remember how the ghost of a 17th century alchemist murdered someone in the 21st century What does that have to do with creepy government agencies Absolutely fucking nothing but someone let Rebecca Stott believe that trying to cram these two huge plotlines into one novel was a good idea I have a feeling that the Syndicate was a later addition after some well intentioned idiot was like Hey Rebecca I think you need to up the stakes in this story Have you read The Da Vinci Code Well I didn t even get a chance to mention that whenever Lydia s narration t even get a chance to mention that whenever Lydia s narration Cameron she refers to him as you Like the whole book is a really long letter Lydia is writing to him It s horrible and utterly pointless and I don t Ultralearning know why no one caught it before letting this book be published That and the dialogue Here s a sample conversation between Lydia and Will Elizabeth s former research assistant it is important tonow that at this point in the book there has been absolutely no hint that the Syndicate will be a plotline so this conversation was absolute fucking gibberish to me when I first read it Look Will said I m going to have to go away for a while I came to say goodbye You ll be back Oh yes I hope so Depends on what happens over the next few weeks How long Could be a week or a month Probably not any longer And I ve arranged for someone to The Ring Of The Dove keep an eye out for you An eye on me Why Because you re caught up in something complicated and it might be dangerous I can t explain because I m not allowed to and because I can t just give you bits I d have to explain it all To do with Elizabeth s manuscript No absolutely nothing to do with all of that Something very un seventeenth century Now go to bed and don t think about it I ll be back as soon as I can For fuck s sake human beings don t talk like that The only. Out 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.