Silvie's father has long been interested in--even obsessed with--the lives of the ancient Britons. And because Silvie's father's will is absolute, Silvie and her mother spend their summer vacation with him in the north of England, re-enacting Stone Age practices and rituals with a group of anthropology students and their professor. Over the pages of Sarah Moss's slim novel, Ghost Wall, this small group of re-enactors grows ever closer to the past: they forage and hunt, cook over open fires, sleep in a roundhouse and even build a skull-lined barricade similar to those once used to scare off enemies.
"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." This dance becomes dangerous as the group's connection to the past gets stronger and the father's obsession takes on an increasingly violent edge. With stark and haunting prose that perfectly captures the harshness of the conditions the group is re-creating, Ghost Wall explores what the past can teach us about the present and what the present can teach us about the past--especially when the two are not as far removed as we may like to believe. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm