Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall

Teenage Silvie is living in a remote Northumberland camp as an exercise in experimental archaeology. Her father is an abusive man, obsessed with recreating the discomfort, brutality and harshness of Iron Age life. Behind and ahead of Silvie's narrative is the story of a bog girl, a sacrifice, a woman killed by those closest to her, and as the hot summer builds to a terrifying climax, Silvie and the Bog girl are in ever more terrifying proximity.

Details Ghost Wall

TitleGhost Wall
Release DateSep 20th, 2018
PublisherGranta Books
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Reviews Ghost Wall

  • Amalia Gavea
    ‘’Darkness was a long time coming.’’ This book is my first contact with Sarah Moss’s writing and it proved to be so fascinating...The word Ghost in the title, the bogs and Northumberland drew my attention to a novel that I read in a single sitting. It was mystifying, hypnotic, complex, powerful.It is an unusually hot summer in Northumberland. Silvie and her parents are following a professor and his students in a camp that tries to imita...
  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    Full review hereIf there was a contest of writing, that will require telling a story using the least amount of words, this book would win it this year.A borderline novella, Ghost Wall is a powerful story that could easily be read in one sitting.I loved the idea behind this novel. The sacrificed bog girls, whose remains found, as characters they are quiet and unknown, as if they never existed but the proof of them being very much alive is there, i...
  • Hannah
    Sarah Moss is one of those authors I have wanted to get to for what feels like ages because I had this feeling that I would adore her work. But sometimes that feeling of a potential favourite author makes me to anxious to actually pick up a book (this is irrational, I know), so I finally jumped at the chance to read and review her newest novel, because it sounds brilliant and it is quite short (I love short books). And I still think that Sarah Mo...
  • Susan
    I have enjoyed the writing of Sarah Moss since reading, “Cold Earth,” in 2009 and was delighted to receive her latest work for review. This is a short novel, almost a novella, but still retains a huge amount of depth and interest. A group of people are gathered for a trip in ‘experimental archaeology,’ recreating an Iron Age camp in Northumberland. There is the professor, Jim Slade, his students; Molly, Dan and Peter, and Silvie and her f...
  • Emma
    The beauty of this novel is in the clash between the bountiful, exuberant language which builds into this incredibly crisp picture, detailed and vibrant, and the terse, one sentence revelations that hold implications, secret knowledge, shared experience of such emotion that it feels like all the words in the world couldn't reveal the depths of it, but somehow say it all. Once you are lost in the flow of Silvie's story, it is mesmerising, the inev...
  • Paula Bardell-Hedley
    “I didn't quite know how to ask anything of my own. How do you leave home, how do you get away, how do you not go back?” When I started reading Ghost Wall, the forthcoming novel from Sarah Moss about a group of people setting up camp close to Hadrian’s Wall as an exercise in experiential archaeology, I surmised from the demeanour of Silvie, its protagonist (and narrator), she was far younger than her actual age. I took her to be a precociou...
  • Eric Anderson
    Like many people, I was hugely impressed by Sarah Moss’ previous novel “The Tidal Zone” for the way its story meaningfully drew the past into the pressing concerns of its characters in the present. She uses a similar technique in her new novel “Ghost Wall” but in a much more compressed form that combines a tense story with a strong statement about issues in modern Britain. Teenage Silvie is taken on a unique archaeological trip in North...
  • Paul Fulcher
    We’re seeing if we can make a ghost wall, said the Prof, sitting back on his haunches. I was just telling your dad, it’s what one of the local tribes tried as a last-ditch defence against the Romans, they made a palisade and brought out their ancestral skulls and arrayed them along the top, dead faces gazing down, it was their strongest magic.Sarah Moss's Ghost Wall sparked connections for me with two excellent novels - Melissa Harrison's rec...
  • Antonomasia
    This is the kind of 3-star rating that means 5 stars for some things, and 2 stars for others. Ghost Wall is brilliant in some ways - but its political implications are not fully coherent, and there are details that don't ring true if you're familiar with the setting and subject. Historical re-enactment and retro living doesn’t get a great press in fiction. (See for example, Todd Wodicka’s All Shall Be Well", Valentine in Nicola Barker’s The...
  • Roman Clodia
    Because they are men, I thought, because they're in charge, because there will be consequences if you don't. I didn't see how she could not know that. A short, almost impressionist piece of writing in which Moss swirls together strands about gender, class, prejudicial nationalism and a kind of atavistic mentality that foreground both the use and abuse of power. The writing is subtle and loaded, the tension rising with the heat and the increasing ...
  • Gumble's Yard
    That was the whole point of the re-enactment, that we ourselves became the ghosts, learning to walk the land as they walked it two thousand years ago, to tend our fire as they tended theirs and hope that some of their thoughts, their way of understanding the world, would follow the dance of muscle and bone. To do it properly, I thought, we would almost have to absent ourselves from ourselves, leaving our actions, our reenactions, to those no long...
  • Bill Kupersmith
    You know that Ghost Wall is a work of literary rather than genre fiction because the characters’ direct discourse is not set off by inverted commas. It is also absurdly overpriced - in a minuscule format scarcely larger than a pocket diary with lots of white space between the lines to pad it to 152 pages at £12.99. And yet it is scarier than all get out, an excellent horror story that Shirley Jackson would have envied having written. Silvie (w...
  • Claire Fuller
    I really enjoyed the premise and story in this short novel. Silvie, seventeen, is participating in an experiential archaeology re-enactment of an iron-age Northumbrian camp with her mother, and abusive and controlling father. Staying in the camp - but in their tents rather than the roundhouse - are three students and their professor. The women are left to 'gather' and cook, while the men hunt, until they also start to reenact odd ancient ceremoni...
  • Sarah
    3.5 rounded downIn Sarah Moss's novella Ghost Wall, set in rural Northumberland, we follow a teenage girl called Silvie. Silvie's father is obsessed with the Iron Age, and takes his wife and his daughter to a camp where they spend the summer living this ancient lifestyle - foraging for food, following the rituals - isolated from modern society.Silvie becomes acquainted with another young camper, Molly, a female archaeology student from university...
  • Sheila
    4 stars--I really liked it. Trigger warnings for domestic violence.A quick read, Ghost Wall contains a lot of things I love: British history and folklore, a clear narrative voice, and an exploration of female strength and relationships. Also, bog bodies! A group of students and their professor, along with Sylvie and her family, spend a couple weeks in the wilderness of northern England, living (with various degrees of historical accuracy) as thei...
  • Lou
    I was drawn to this immediately by the fact it is based in the beautiful Northumberland countryside which is actually where I live, as well as the fact that i've started to really appreciate literary fiction recently. Even though it explores dark topics, I found there was a solemn calm throughout the novel which was almost eerie. Although only a novella, 'Ghost Wall' really packs an emotional punch within those short pages. Some of the many theme...
  • erica
    This book was SO CREEPY! 😱 Bogs, bog mummies, bog sounds, bogs at night, B O G S ! "I felt Dad's gaze on me and knew with a shiver what he was thinking. My daughter. Break her and stake her to the bog, stop her before she gets away. They weren't dead, the bog people, not to those who'd killed them. They had to be pinned to their graves with sharp sticks driven through elbow and knee, trapped behind woven wooden palings, to stop them coming bac...
  • Noelia Alonso
    (8/10)FULL REVIEW:
  • Elaine Mullane
    This is my first book by Sarah Moss but something tells me I will reach for her work again.Ghost Wall is a short but very well executed novel that combines the ancient rituals of the Iron Age with a contemporary setting. The novel takes place over a period of a few hot days in summer, towards the end of the 20th century. Seventeen-year-old Silvie and her parents have joined Professor Slade and a group of students on a camping expedition in rural ...
  • Joseph
    Silvie and her parents join an archaeology professor and three of his students on a field trip to Northumberland. The trip is an experiment in "experiential archaeology" in the sense that its participants try to recreate and re-enact the living conditions of the Iron Age tribes which inhabited these remote areas. The professor's intentions are innocent enough, at least at the outset - a mixture of academic curiosity and a "Boys' Own" thirst for a...
  • Jessica
    2018-09-18 stars. This was brilliant. A slow burning dark tension throughout heightened by a touch of melodrama to the ending - reminiscent of Elmet, a novel I adored. Ghost Wall also similarly examines the complex tethers between humans and nature, questions what defines masculinity and gender roles, and highlights the stereotypes that help form the North/South cultural divide evident in the UK. For what is effec...
  • Robert
    Here's the review:
  • Eleanor
    (6, if I could.)A deceptively short book, almost a novella at 150 pages, with a core of menace, Ghost Wall follows Silvie, the daughter of a bus driver whose love for Ancient British history is tinged with racism and nationalism. He has brought Silvie and her mother on a trip to Northumberland to live as Iron Age peoples did, but their campmates—a professor and his students on an “Experiential Archaeology” course—are less devoted to dogma...
  • SueLucie
    Teenaged Silvie and her parents join a group of university students and their professor for some experiential archaeology on the wild Northumberland moors. They plan to recreate the day-to-day living conditions of the people who were there in ancient times - hunting and gathering to survive, but also becoming interested in old beliefs and rituals. Of them all, Silvie’s father is the most invested in ‘keeping it real’ and bullies his wife an...
  • Bandit
    This is a story of a reenactment gone too far. This is a story of a dysfunctional family with an abusive father, a passive mother and a bright though browbeaten figuratively and literally teenage daughter. It is her, Sil, who is the narrator and through her the reader gets to experience an experimental archeology set up her father signs them up for, arranged by a university professor and some of his pupils. Actually to me it seems more like an an...
  • Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
    Such a powerful, perfectly contained story of familial, societal and historical violence. Moss writes with characteristic brilliance, every line in this short book shaped just so. It’s charming and funny at the same time as being horrifying and appalling. I read it in two breathless sittings on trains but it would lend itself to the luxury of a rainy weekend afternoon on the sofa.
  • Kirsty
    I consistently enjoy Sarah Moss' novels, and was so excited when I found out about the 2018 release of her novella, Ghost Wall. The premise, which revolves around a seventeen-year-old girl named Silvie, who is spending her summer at an Iron Age reenactment with her strict father and put-upon mother, intrigued me, and I found myself absorbed in the story from the very beginning.It is difficult to pinpoint quite when this takes place, but a couple ...
  • Bridget
    The beginning of this book is so thoroughly creepy I was hooked from the first lines. A young girl tied to a stake about to be burned to death, everyone is watching and nobody is helping her. The tone changes immediately and now you realise that you have been reading the ending and spend your time wondering how those horrific scenes will come about. Creeping menace, lots and lots of it, abound in this book.Sil's family are spending the summer in ...