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’m not the only hitcher in this state.”
“Is that so? And what state are we in then, Rosie-my dear? Denial? Transition? Oh, could we be in a state of grace?”
Note: Technically Sparrow Hill Road and the Ghost Roads series is part of the InCryptid world. If you have read InCryptid, you will definitely recognise Buckley Township and other characters, including our main character Rose Marshall. I’ll stress that this is completely standalone from InCryptid. You do not have to have read InCryptid to understand Sparrow Hill Road, and you do not have to read Ghost Roads to understand InCryptid. The two stories are complete separate from each other, even though they share characters and a world.
Sparrow Hill road was entertaining but for me it was missing something. I’m not even too clear what is missing for me. Though I was entertained, it was at a pretty low level. It was enough to keep me reading, but not enough to keep me excited. This is weird to me, because I have read most of Seanan McGuire’s works by now, and I’ve always been super excited to be reading whatever she is giving me.
In the beginning, this was a collection of ghost stories. Each chapter was a new story featuring an aspect of Rose Marshall. It has been years and years since I’ve read just ghost stories. Typically, I don’t particularly care for short stories (and this is essentially what the early part of the book was). However, this was actually my favourite part of the book. I loved Rose just going from place to place, doing her thing. Being the ghost in the green silk dress, or being the hitchhiker, or the girl in the diner. This was just fun.
After this beginning, we get into the real heart of the story. We get into Rose Marshall’s story, not just the stories that have Rose in them. Rose’s story weaves together the Rose of then and the Rose of now in a dizzying mixture of time. Things that happened in the past have bearing on her present. Rose’s story is one of fear and revenge. Her story is a story that has played out hundreds of times before. But this is her story.
The worldbuilding is definitely the strongest part of the story. Seanan McGuire has a way of creating something out of nothing and making it the most utterly bizarre yet plausible thing you’ve ever heard of. The ghosts are no different. I love how she creates these stories.
There are as many kinds of ghost as there are ways to die, but death starts the same way for everyone. One moment we’re alive, and the next, we’re not.
That quote right there opens a whole host of possibilities regarding these ghosts. It opens the world to be as weird as Seanan can think of, and trust me when I say that is very weird. Especially when you consider certain…things that happen during the course of Sparrow Hill road. I have so many “what if” scenarios going on in my head. So many of those scenarios are weird.
And the end is definitely peak Seanan weirdness. Seanan can come up with some very weird ideas. The end though? Well, I don’t wanna ruin it for you, but wow. I have never seen that before. I don’t think I want to see it again. Seanan, why are you so dang weird?
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Ghost Roads series page!