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To Read on a Dark Winter’s Night: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

27 Jan

As winter approaches and the nights grow longer, many of us will be searching for a gripping reading distraction from the coming cold winter nights. I suggest Sarah Moss’ Ghost Wall: a short but impactful novel offering a spine-tingling tale to finish in one go, perhaps late at night next to your fireplace (or a virtual fire on your TV or computer). 

Ghost Wall follows sheltered seventeen-year-old Silvie and her parents as they join an archaeology course for a two week re-enactment of Stone Age life in Northumberland, UK. During the two weeks of the trip the participants forage for roots and berries, use only Stone Age tools and clothing, and navigate the inhospitable bogs and moors of the remote landscape. The suspense builds as the re-enactment grows more frenzied and the dynamic unravels between the archaeology academics and Silvie’s working class family, and in particular her unfulfilled father. Throughout we face the unsettling parallels between the harsh reality of ancient life and the perils of the modern day.

Within the short two week and 130 page time frame, Ghost Wall manages to tackle modern and historic gender roles, class and trauma, and warns against romanticizing the past and building walls. Moss’ writing is transportive, and the natural world is strongly felt in both its beauty and danger. We also strongly feel Silvie’s inner turmoil and fear, and this evocation is sure to take your breath away as the novel draws to a conclusion. I recommend Ghost Wall as a thought-provoking, suspenseful, and dark but satisfying read.

Written by:
Madison Black
Library Assistant, Children’s Department

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