[Book Review] Sparrow Hill Road

Sparrow Hill Road (The Ghost Roads #1) / Seanan McGuire

Some ghost stories we've all heard, or heard some version of.  Sleep over stories, campfire tales, urban legends.  They change, they fade, but they still make the rounds, even as new stories like the Black Eyed Kids or the Slenderman take root.

In Sparrow Hill Road we get the story of one of those undying ghost stories, in the form of Rose Marshall, the phantom prom date, the vanishing hitchhiker, the girl in the diner.  She died in 1952 when she was run off the road on prom night, and hasn't been able to truly go home since.  Riding the roads, both  mortal and dead, ushering those to their final exit, or helping others find their way home.

Even the dead have something to fear, some of the living have power over them, the Crossroads where bargains are made, and sometimes those who well their souls at the expense of others.  Rose is not only the vanishing hitchhiker, but the girl who got away, her death to pay for another's immortality... and he still wants to pay that check with her soul.

So come along on this journey through the years and along highways.

When I first saw Sparrow Hill Road, I passed on it.  I love Seanan's work, but it wasn't October Daye or InCryptid, and ghosts aren't really my thing.  OK, yes, I'm probably getting side eye for that from everyone who's played in game content I've written recently.  But really, I didn't want to start another series and at the time, the premise didn't catch me.  Then it was reissued (with cover art I absolutely love, I might add), and this time I was smarter and went for it.

Seanan's writing often has an edge of humor to it, but that doesn't mean her stories aren't dark.  Sparrow Hill Road isn't a completely cohesive novel, rather a series of semi-sequential short stories revolving around Rose Marshall.  There is some repetition of setting, the stories originally published individually rather than as a single narrative, but it still serves well, the chapters weaving together into a larger mural.  Worth reading, and I look forward to the sequel, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, out this summer.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of DAW (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.


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