Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Ghost Stories #1
Trade Paperback, 308 pages
Publication: May 6, 2014 by DAW
Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.
Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.
It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.
They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.
You can’t kill what’s already dead.
I love McGuire’s work! I’ve read most her books, such as her October Daye series from the beginning, her latest series featuring a family of cryptologists and her Parasitology duology under her pen name Mira Grant…anything she writes, I will read. When I first heard about McGuire’s Sparrow Hill Road, I was ecstatic since I’m a sucker for ghost stories, and happened to miss the serialized version of the story when it was online years ago. So when the chance came to review Sparrow Hill Road, I jumped at the opportunity!
Sparrow Hill Road is a first person narrative, as readers follow along Rose when she was alive and in death. The majority of the book takes place after death, as Rose navigates the ghost roads, hitchhiking her way across America. It takes Rose about 3 years to really understand the rules of the ghost road, content with her job assisting the newly departed to their home/final destination. It isn’t till Rose learns that her murderer, Bobby Cross, a man neither dead nor alive is still preying on people just like herself, running them off the roads to their death that she wants to put an end to his terror.
Whether McGuire is writing about fairies, monsters, zombies, bio-engineered alien-like worms, or ghosts; she definitely puts her own signature on the topic, creating a unique and wonderful world within the pages of a book. I didn’t know what to expect when I started Sparrow Hill Road, it was different from any ghost story I ever read. It was like mini Rose stories within a story (I get why now it was a serial/episode first), the story jumps back and forth over the span of 60 years since Rose died in the first 2/3 of the book and in the last 1/3 of the book it is set in the present day. We encounter each and every single person Rose manages to save and the unlucky ones that she assists along the ghost road. I’m an action type of gal, I like seeing an overall conflict or an endgame in the long run and I didn’t really see one in Sparrow Hill Road. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the stories (book is divided into 4 parts: book1, book2…etc) within the story because I did. I thought it was really interesting to see what it means to be a road ghost and all the other types of ghosts Rose meets; many I never heard of before. Each ghost has their own trait and duties that differ from road ghost Rose (given that she died on the “road”); there is also a handy little ghost reference guide at the back of the book to help you familiarize yourself with the types of ghost before you start the book.
Rose isn’t what I expected either. Rose died when she was 16-years-old but she isn’t like any typical 16-year-old, having been died for 60 years…she definitely has a lot of tricks up her sleeves, and isn’t ashamed to do some questionable things. And while she is 16, she has a voice of someone in their early-mid 20’s; she’s real, straightforward, a ‘takes no crap’ kind of girl. This happens to be exactly my type of heroine.
Sparrow Hill Road is a great introduction to the new Ghost Stories series, and I am really looking forward to see where McGuire plans to take this series. The story wraps up nicely, but I’m assuming there will be more stories of Rose or a character within in the world since this book is titled ‘Ghost Stories #1’. I highly recommend this book to all McGuire and urban fantasy fans, it surely will not disappoint.