Seanan McGuire’s stories always have a fascinating richness to them. This trait is especially evident in Sparrow Hill Road, a series of interconnected stories about Rose Marshall. Also known as the Phantom Prom Date, Rose’s stories follow her along the roads of the U.S. and of the multiple layers of the realms of the dead while she “lives” and avoids her biggest enemy: Bobby Cross, the man who murdered her and wants her soul.
Published: 6 May 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Category: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
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.
Rating: 3 Stars
When I started reading this, I wasn’t aware that this was a collection of short stories, or rather, that is had been spliced together and adapted from a series of short stories about Rose than Seanan did one year as part of a year long project. Not knowing that made it slightly confusing when the stories neglected to follow a linear story line (the note about the year long project was after the conclusion).
While the linearity was a bit off-putting, it was still fun to see the different encounters that Rose has throughout the years since her death. Sometimes she was incredibly clever, sometimes so unaware that I was metaphorically clutching my head between my hands at the fate that waited for her in those tales.
There was a lot of folklore that was embedded within the story that made for a detailed, rich experience. From the hitchers and road ghosts to the living/”living” creatures that interact with them, Rose interacted with a lot of different “people”. It was interesting to get the information about how each one works, how their magic is tied to the road or their deaths and so on.
This may not have been my favorite of Seanan’s books, as I didn’t enjoy reading it nearly as much as others, but I would still recommend it to others because it’s the beginning of more ghost stories whose endings have not yet happened (for me, anyway). It also has some connections to the InCryptid series, which I am loving, so I will be looking forward to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, book two of the Ghost Roads stories series.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.