BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bea Reviews Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Publisher: Daw Books
Format Read: trade paperback
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | ARe* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

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.

Bea's Thoughts:

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. 

So, you might need some patience at the start of the book, but it's worthwhile. McGuire gives us smart, philosophical, engaging, sometimes frightening urban ghost tales. Rose may have a bad rep but she's a good girl and a fascinating character. Join her for a ride on Sparrow Hill Road, and don't forget to loan her your coat.


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16 comments:

  1. Aw, sorry to hear that the beginning was slower than you wanted

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    1. That's typical for McGuire so I wasn't too worried.

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  2. I've heard good things about this author. I will have to add it to my list.

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    1. Yes, add her to your TBR pile. She's excellent.

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  3. This sounds great! I love all the classic ghost stories so this sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the warning that the first little bit may drag a little. I'll be prepared to solider through.

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    1. That's why I put it in, so readers would be prepared.

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  4. Oh this sounds very interesting! I like the things she has going on. I need to try her books. *sigh*

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    1. Yes, I think you'd like this book, and her Toby Daye series.

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  5. Ooh I remember seeing this series a while back and thinking I needed to try it out. Completely forgot about it. Looks like a trip to Amazon is in order :D

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  6. Sounds interesting -- good Halloween fare, maybe?

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    1. Yes, but also good anytime. It's a ghost story, a thriller, a travel book, a thriller, a romance - it has a bit of almost everything.

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  7. I have recently bought her first "October Daye" book and look forward to reading it. By the way, I'm also a nerd for new words, it makes me happy to discover them but then, as a kid, I loved to read the dictionary ;)

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    1. I still enjoy reading the dictionary. :D

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  8. Good to be warned, Bea! I will definitely read it at some point because it's Seanan McGuire :) I'll just be patient with it.

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    1. Once it got going, I really enjoyed it. Do be patient with it, you won't regret it.

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