Format Read: trade paperback
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 6, 2014
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Blurb from goodreads:
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 was excited when this arrived in my mailbox. I'm a big fan of her work though I'd never read the online serial fiction she posted. This book collects them into one work. I'm not sure how much editing or re-writing was done or if new material was added though it feels as if the latter half might have been written for the book.
Rose Marshall died in 1952, when her date for the prom failed to show up and she went looking for him. Instead, she was run off the road and died in a car accident. After her death, she became a hitcher, a ghost who hitches rides with the living. If they lend her a coat or coat-type garment (shawl, sweater, etc.) she becomes corporeal and can be injured. She can also eat if the food is given to her freely by a member of the living. In addition to being a hitcher, Rose is a psychopomp; she escorts deal souls to their destination. Sometimes, she can avert an accident. McGuire takes existing folk lore and ghost stories to create her own and weaves a complex culture of the dead and the living. There are routewitches, crossroad guardians and ghosts, roads that are alive, and even a be`an sidhe, commonly known as a banshee. There are queens and kings, vengeful humans, vengeful ghosts, ghosts who don't know they are dead, treachery, and some family drama and yes, even some romance, which I didn't expect. As always, McGuire puts her own spin on the traditional and makes it all hers.
I did have trouble with the first 70 or so pages, as it was one short vignette after another and I couldn't see how McGuire was going to make a 300+ page book but I kept going and it was worth the wait. I ended up staying up late to finish the book. I cared about Rose, Emma, Apple, and even Bethany, slimy girl that she was. Gradually the vignettes become longer and tie together, forming a cohesive whole and the story ends on a happy for now. I'd like to see more stories and see what happens with Rose and Carl and Rose and Emma. And, I want to see what happens between Rose and her nemesis Bobby.
One thing I enjoyed, and this will just confirm that I am a nerd for those of you who didn't already know it, but McGuire had about a half dozen or so words that I either didn't know at all or only vaguely knew and I had to look them up. Yes, that made me happy. Yes, I am a nerd. No, the vocabulary is not inaccessible or high-faluting but neither does she talk down to her readers. Oh, and yes, there is a glossary at the back of the book.