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Publisher's Summary

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 17th 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 into a series of murders, may have its origins in the troubling evidence that Elizabeth's research has unearthed.

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. Time and relationships are entangled - the present with the 17th century and figures from the past with the love-torn 21st 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.

©2007 Rebecca Stott; (P)2007 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"British historian 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)

What members say

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  • Overall

More of a stroll

Hard to explain this one. Liked: the sinister mood it evoked. It reminded me of the film "Don't Look Now", and not just with the red-cloaked figure of evil lurking about in the shadows. It carefully built a really sustained mood of spookiness.

But the characters were very hard to like; I had almost no sympathy for any of them, least of all for the main character....but I am also not sure I was really meant to have any sympathy for her.

The story focuses in part on lab animals who are sacrificed for medical research, and it really felt like the characters in this novel all got sacrificed for some greater purpose...but I am not sure what that purpose was.

This novel got me thinking, and I am still thinking about it. But...if you like your spooky stories straightforward and not too cerebral, stay away from this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Such potential...

The woman reading the book gave it an air of mystery and intrigue--her voice echoed the lyrical prose of the author and gave it the correct amount of suspense. Sadly, the story itself, was a jumble of ideas, genres, characters, and perspective. I kept listening, due mainly because I could sense and imagine where the book could have gone. There was such wonderful potential for this book--an ending that could have left me surprised and energized, but failed. I thrill to the prospect of finding a new story from an author new to me. When I read a book that leaves me wanting to immediately order every book by that author, I am in book reader heaven. This book, for me, did not do that.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lynn Eden
  • Stanford, CA United States
  • 08-25-07


This skillful historical novel vividly portrays 17th century Cambridge: Stourbridge fair, Venetian glass, drafty university life, the plague, alchemy, and the young Isaac Newton. The 20th century love and detective story that frames the earlier history also works well. The characters from both periods are engrossing. Even the spooky goings on in the contemporary story are plausible enough in the novel's context. A pleasure to listen to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Derek
  • Union, KY, United States
  • 05-31-07

Slow but worth it.

I came away from Ghostwalk with a much deeper appreciation for the 17th century, Cambridge and especially Isaac Newton. Story was very well woven into the past and historical facts. Loved the narrator's accent - it really lent credibility to the story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Quality Read.

Reading this book was like being led on a tour of fine literature, or sipping the finest wines, or exploring the halls of the colleges at Cambridge. Rich with imagery and history and poetry and literature, it was a peaceful experience. I would say, it is one to focus on, as every sentence carries value. The unveiling of the plot elements can seem to drag, with too few bits being brought forth at times, but I found this worth it as the story winds to its climax - these slower parts hypnotized me and pulled me further into the world(s) the plot is centered in, so that I was fully prepared to accept the story in the shape it revealed itself. NOT an action story!
Beautifully read by the narrator, great historical information!
I'll carry this one with me for a while.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

fascinating but...

First of all the back story is incredibly interesting and imaginative but the characters were so flat and irritating. I had no sympathy for any of them and that perturbs me. I like a good story where I can latch on the one character, at least. I wish that the author had humanized them a bit more. I mean, it seemed that there was an attempt to humanize them but there is more to a human being than their flaws. Flaws and deep depression are all you get with these characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • 07-06-07


Based on the description and subject matter, I had high hopes for this book. Is it historical mystery, modern romance, or supernatural thriller? It suggests all, but never satisfies any of these genres. Unfortunately, by using the past tense throughout, the author fails to build and maintain any suspense for the romance, the mystery, or the thriller. The "historical" context of the story is given short shrift and is presented fairly academically. Much of the story focuses on the relationship between the narrator and her former lover, but it is hard to care what happens to them because we always know the relationship is not going anywhere. All of the important facts necessary to solve the "mystery" tumble out in the last few chapters. So, skip the middle. Aw heck, skip the whole thing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

not a mystery

1.This is a romance, not a mystery.
2. There is blessed little "history" in this historical non-mystery.
That said, I'm sure the story is just fine for romance readers/listeners. The narrator is fine. I should have cross-referenced the title before I bought it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Have Insomnia? This will cure you!

I thought I was going to enjoy this book. The only time I didn't doze off while listening to this book was when I was driving. This book starts out very slow and then it drags on and on and on. It is so excessively descriptive that I got lost and couldn't really "picture" the basic characters, town, houses, rooms, etc. That's important to me when I'm reading or listening to a book. I finally gave up on it - something I've never done before! That's how bad it was.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Take a nap instead

It started out sappy and wistful, then continued in a downward spiral through to the anti climatic end. It wasn't just the long drawn out descriptions, that sometimes stated "It was as though..." then finished the thought with "...but it really wasn't so". The narration was perfectly awful. I finished the listen only to see if there were any redeeming qualities, "but alas it wasn't so". So I'm warning anyone; if you have a choice between this book and a nap...take the nap. It'll be much more refreshing.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful