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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, 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 of history, and time itself.
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.
“Mesmerizing . . . Ghostwalk has an all-too-rare scholarly authority and imaginative sparkle. . . . . Rebecca Stott has accomplished something distinctively fresh with what she calls ‘a grubby little set of murders in Cambridge.’ Along the way, she manages to invoke both the non-causal entanglements of quantum physics and the paranoid conspiracies of Pynchon and DeLillo. Her home terrain, however is the river-riven landscape of the human heart.” --New York Times Book Review
“Stott makes a stunning debut with this hypnotic and intelligent thriller. . . 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.” --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Mesmerizing, intellectually challenging . . . Stott jumps dexterously between present and past, bringing the world of Newton and his alchemical colleagues to vivid life and offering tantalizingly believable explanations for the cojoining of time and space. No novel since Iain Pears’s Instance of the Fingerpost (1998) has so vigorously stirred the cauldron of conflict that was seventeenth-century England.” --Booklist
“A hypnotic brew of speculation, intrigue and murder…It’s outlandish and devilishly plausible….You’ll be enthralled… By the final chapter, Stott’s elegant subtlety has been transmuted into a violent swirl of reversals and revelations that would defy Newton’s calculus. You can’t help but feel swept away.” --Washington Post Book World
“Fiercely intelligent… You won’t have time to reflect on Stott’s metaphysics, at least not on the first read–you’ll be too eager to solve the murders. Ghostwalk works beautifully on both levels, leaving a lingering impression of a world richer, and more precarious, than we imagine.” --Janice P. Nimura, Los Angeles Times
“Ghostwalk is a strange and improbable book that seduces you into the unbelievable….Rebecca Stott’s debut thriller weaves science and the supernatural into an eerie narrative. . . . a truly haunting literary thriller.” --New York Daily News
“Drawing on alchemy, neurology, animal-rights activism, and supernatural visitations, this debut novel is an ambitious, learned thriller. . . Stott deploys her research effortlessly and demonstrates great attention to detail.” --New Yorker
“[An] intelligent, literary approach to the modern gothic… Rebecca Stott masterfully delivers an intricate plot.” --South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Spellbinding . . . 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.” --Kirkus (starred review)
“Past and present are exquisitely connected in Stott’s wonderfully written Ghostwalk. She uses some sorcery of her own in a novel as informative as it is entertaining.” --USA Today
“Stott brings a nervy intelligence to her work, skillfully linking the war on terror, quantum physics, alchemy, serial murder, ghosts, and thwarted romance.” --Miami Herald
“[A] posh romantic thriller. If you liked cracking the Da Vinci Code, you’ll love uncovering a secret 17th-century brotherhood that includes the young Isaac Newton.” --Good Housekeeping “Good Reads”
“Especially delightful.” --Ladies’ Home Journal.com (LHJ.com)
“Most impressive … a real literary mystery and also a novel of ideas.” --Observer (UK)
“An intricate tale of love, science, ghosts, history, secrets and lies … beautifully written and extensively researched … an eerily compelling read.” --Time Out (London)
“Stott's prose has...poetic brilliance...Ghostwalk is a pacy...thriller with some creepy moments.” --The Herald (Glasgow)
“I have been haunted by scenes from Ghostwalk … it certainly exercises the mind on many different levels. The novel is a very carefully measured blend of fact and fiction, skilfully prepared and presented in a form to beguile its readers. This is a book that lends itself to being talked about in intelligent circles.” --Jacqueline Kay, Bookbag
“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 center is audacious, convincing, and will make readers think anew about what history is.”--Iain Pears, author of An Instance of the Fingerpost
“Stott moves between past and present with the page-turning dexterity of a literary alchemist—a novel of intrigue as cleverly imagined as it is entertaining.” --Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German, The Prodigal Spy, and Los Alamos
“A dangerous love story and mystery, where after a time neither the reader nor the
heroine can tell what is true. You slip through the shimmering prose and fall into the
alchemy of Newton and certain unsolved crimes of his time until you begin to wonder if
what happened then can affect what might happen now. Blending contemporary
quantum physics with the winding streets of ancient Cambridge, Ghostwalk is a highly
intelligent and original novel.”--Stephanie Cowell, author of Nicholas Cooke and The Physician of London
“An amazing work - a highly intelligent thriller that combines the supernatural with modern quantum 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
“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.”--Dame Professor Gillian Beer, Professor of Literature at Cambridge University