Ghost Wall was a book that seemed to come up in quite a few of Best of 2018 blogs and articles that I read over Christmas, so I was eager to read this.
It’s an incredibly slim volume, running to around 150 pages, but in packs an absolute punch. I read it across a single day.
Silvie has been dragged along by her father to take part in an archaeological re-enactment in a remote bit of Northumbrian countryside one summer. Her domineering father is a bus-driver by trade, but a man who loves ancient British history to the point that Silvie’s true name is Sulevia, after an ancient British goddess.
Silvie’s mother has also been dragged into spending the time living as an iron-age family might have done, hunting and gathering their own food, living in a period-appropriate hut.
The project is being overseen by a local professor who has also brought a handful of students along for the summer too. But none of them are being forced to endure the full hardship that Silvie’s father is insisting on.
While he’s undoubtedly a fan of iron age history, he is not a nice man. The family have no choice about taking part in the re-enactment.
There’s inherent sexism going on. Silvie’s and her mother are expected to do domestic things while others get to do the more interesting stuff. Her father is slightly distrusting of the students. And more importantly, everything is becoming a little unhinged as the professor and Silvie’s father plot and scheme about some of the less pleasant aspects of iron age society.