Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

 Silvie's father has always been enamored by the history of their land. And in the northern part of England this history abounds. Iron Age living and especially their rituals have fascinated him all of Silvie's life. She's even named after one of the women they worshipped. But when their family is allowed to tag along on an immersive college trip that aims to show people what it was like to live in that era, Silvie's father takes things a bit too far. 

Sarah Moss's latest is a slim novel set in the 80s in northern England. 

Silvie's father believes himself to be something of an expert on Iron Age history in England. The time before the Romans (and the peoples' resistance to them as well) is a subject he's completely self-taught on. But it is clear that he knows quite a bit. And he converses with professors and historians on the subject frequently even if he never had the luxury of officially studying it himself. 

Which is how the family is allowed to join in on a trip otherwise reserved for archaeology students at one of the universities. 

Silvie and her mother, as we soon learn, not only humor her father's hobby, they're forced to endure it. And endure is the correct word as we soon learn. 

The students, and Silvie's family, are to live as the people would have lived in ancient history. Though the students are granted some leniency by their professor, Silvie's father is insistent: the family will sleep in the hut built for this purpose, wear clothes appropriate for the time (with the exception of their underclothes and pajamas, after much arguing), and work and eat just as the Iron Age people would have. 

But Silvie is a teenager. One who is, by virtue of her exposure to the college students, starting to learn just how penned in she is by her father's beliefs. The resulting situation is a perfect storm of teen angst and psychological tension. 

This is a quiet book, but again a very short one. I loved the setting but will say that it was not quite what I'd expected. 

The ghost wall of the title doesn't appear until closer to the end of the story. And where I'd expected a bit more in the way of creepiness, the build instead was instead focused on the breakdown in the relationship between Silvie's family. 

Ghost Wall was interesting, but marred by my expectations going in. It was still an enthralling read and a great way to spend a hot afternoon swinging in the hammock!

Order it from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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