GPL Blog

Book Review | Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

From the publisher: 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.

“No matter what form your soul takes when it hits the ghostroads, it has rules it has to follow. I can borrow flesh and blood from the living for the span of a night by putting on the coats and sweaters that they put aside, stealing breath and skin and all the trappings of mortality.”

Seanan McGuire is one of my favorite authors, and Sparrow Hill Road takes place in her InCryptid book universe, although familiarity with the series isn’t required for reading and enjoying this book. I recently did a reread of SHR (again) as the final book in the trilogy came out last month. If you’re looking for a hauntingly (ha) captivating ghost story, you’ve come to the right place.

As detailed by the publisher, the story follows Rose Marshall, the Phantom Prom Date. She’s the one looking for the ride home, who leaves her jacket in the car or on the tombstone. You know how the story goes. But that’s not how it started. Seanan expertly weaves Rose’s tale over the course of decades, through our own world and that of the ghostroads and the twilight, where a highly detailed gallery of ghosts and other residents spend their time. A guide to these denizens is found in the back of the book, with tantalizing and terrifying glimpses of the enormity of the world Seanan has created. We follow Rose as time and again she’s called to lead the newly dead to the next step in their journey, all the while being on the alert for the scent of ashes and wormwood that precedes the arrival of Bobby Cross and his unholy car. Originally written in a serialized format for an online source, the setting introductions can at times be a bit repetitive and the overall tone a bit disjointed, especially with the time jumps (although these are clearly labeled). But if you let yourself sink into the twilight and take the book as both a whole and an introduction to the world continued in The Girl in the Green Silk Gown and Angel of the Overpass, you’ll be richly rewarded.

Sparrow Hill Road is available for checkout at Galesburg Public Library.