Sunday, September 02, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Sparrow Hill Road & The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

There is nothing more human than the ghost story. ~ Opening of Sparrow Hill Road

Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Roads, #1) by Seanan McGuire
DAW, 2018 (originally published in 2014)
Fantasy; 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Although I had a copy of Sparrow Hill Road on my Kindle to read, I mistakenly started with Seanan McGuire’s second book in her Ghost Roads series, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. It actually worked out well that I did. Sparrow Hill Road is a compilation of stories and scenarios introducing readers the character of Rose Marshall, our hitchhiking ghost. It certainly would have whetted my appetite for more Rose, but I think the cohesive novel pulled me in more so than the individual stories might have. I did not mind having to go back and do a little catching up, filling in some of the blanks—like how in the world Gary became a car?! And I wanted to know more about how she became tied to Persephone, questions which are answered in Sparrow Hill Road.

Talk about intricate world building! The layers of the afterlife created by the author and tying it in with existing mythology was genius. And McGuire did it in such a way as to make it very tangible. Rose’s death was no accident, but she did not quite serve the purpose of her killer had planned for her. As a result, he has been hunting her for the sixty years since she lost her life at age sixteen. Rose has made a life for herself, thumbing it on the highways of America. She has earned a name for herself, although not all the legends about her are true. Some, of course, are. The roads themselves have a life of their own, built on history and memory. And the weigh stations, or phantom diners, found along the way aren’t far behind that, given the power they hold.

Sparrow Hill Road offers a glimpse at how Rose became who she is now—how she earned her name as the Phantom Prom Date and various other nicknames. The reader gets to see her in her early years as a ghost, her attempts to save others from a similar fate, and her run ins with those who would wish her harm, including one of her own relatives. I enjoyed this collection quite a bit as it allowed me to hold onto Rose Marshall for a little bit longer after finishing The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. I enjoyed all of the stories. Rose can be rough around the edges at times, but that is what makes her Rose. She did not have an easy life when alive and it is no different in death. She died at the age of sixteen and will forever be stuck in the body of a sixteen year old. She has watched those she loved die, sometimes seeing them down the road.

What a ride The Girl in the Silk Gown was! Pun intended. Rose has long been on the run from Bobby Cross, the man behind her untimely death. She knows she must find a way to stop him, but she isn’t quite there yet. A tattoo seal on her back is the only thing that is preventing Bobby from getting his hands on her—but he’s found a way to break it, and Rose is now fighting for her very existence. Bobby even scares me—I really don’t like him. He is evil to the core. Talk about the ultimate road trip. From corn fields to the roads of America, and even to Greece where we meet up with the gods. Finding allies among enemies and making new friends, Rose is determined to get out from under Bobby’s clutches. There was no sitting back in my chair or lying comfortably on the bed as I read. No, I was sitting up, tense as can be or standing and pacing as I read, dying to know what would happen next. Where I do think reading Sparrow Hill Road first would have come in handy, is having a better grip on who some of the returning characters were. Not yet knowing though, did not prevent me from enjoying or following the story. Rose may be sixteen in appearance, but she has had more than a life time of experience. She resourceful and a risk taker, which serves her well.

Some of my favorite characters were the routewitches, especially the Queen. I do hope we get to see more of her in future books. Their tie to the roads and the road ghosts in an interesting one which McGuire has fit so naturally into the world she has created. The Ocean Lady, an example of a road that is a character, is both mysterious and powerful. I can see why she is feared and revered. I also really like Emma, who is one of Rose’s friends. She has her reasons for preferring to live among the dead rather than the living, but will do what she can to help Rose.

I could not help but think of the television show Supernatural. This series has a similar feel, although different. I am very much looking forward to reading more by Seanan MacGuire, both in this series and in her other series. I hear they are pretty awesome too.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads, #2) by Seanan McGuire
DAW, 2018
Fantasy; 352 pgs
Source: First Reads/NetGalley

This is a ghost story. ~ Opening of The Girl in the Green Silk Gown


For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.


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16 comments:

  1. Sounds very interesting. I've not heard of these books so I'll be checking them out. Thanks for the great review, Wendy!

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    1. Melody - I hope you will give them a try, Melody. They are so good!

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  2. Ooooh, I have yet to post my review of Sparrow Hill Road #1 but you have seriously whetted my appetite for the Girl in the Green Silk Gown!

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    1. Verushka - I think you will really like The Girl in the Green Silk Gown!

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  3. The cover doesn't quite appeal to me but your review makes the book sound very interesting! (And I like the title too!)

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    1. Eustacia - They aren't my favorite covers either, but the books are really good.

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  4. These sound perfect for this time of year. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

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    1. Kathy - They'd be great for the R.I.P. Challenge. :-)

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  5. I'm looking forward to reading The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. :)

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  6. I still have yet to read a novel from Seanan McGuire. Based on your reviews, I need to remedy that asap.

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    1. Suzanne - I definitely plan to read more by her. These were so good.

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  7. I do want to read this series and I am kind of wondering if reading it in reverse order might be the way to go. Glad you enjoyed these!

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    1. Carole - I loved them! I am glad I read them out of order in the end, but, then, I think there could be an argument made for reading them in order as the first book does explain certain things that pop up in the second book. I hadn't realized though when I first got my copy of the first book that it wasn't an actual novel. That might have put me off a bit as a result. Not that I mind short stories. I don't. I just wasn't expecting it.

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  8. WOW!! Fabulous review, Wendy!! I love how you detailed these two books without giving too much away!

    I first discovered these books about 2 months ago, on Goodreads. As you know, I LOVE paranormal fiction, and ghosts totally fascinate me! So I've been wanting to get my hands on these two books since I came across them.

    The concept of a ghost on the roads is such an interesting one! And Rose sounds like a real scrapper. The aspects of these two books you've mentioned make me want to dive in right away, even though I am, to be quite honest, feeling some trepidation. It does sound like there's an element of horror in them, as well.

    How interesting that you felt you had to pace around as you read! I've never done this myself. But this means that these books were REALLY intense!

    Thanks for sharing your well-written thoughts!! HUGS TO YOU AND MOUSE!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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    1. Maria - I really enjoyed both of these books. They definitely fall into the urban fantasy category, which means there is a bit of what some might call horror. It's no more or less than other books that fall in that sub-genre though. You know your limits better than anyone.

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