Review: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

June 8, 2014 Reviews 4 Comments

Review: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuireSparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
Series: Ghost Stories #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by DAW on 6 May 2014
Pages: 312
Reading Challenges: 2014 Mid Year COYER
One StarOne StarOne Star


This is a collection of loose stories about the death of ghost Rose Marshall. Rose might have died in 1952 but she has been hitchhiking the roads of America ever since. She has been immortalised in urban legends as ‘the girl in the diner’, ‘the phantom prom date’ and ‘the girl in the green silk gown’ but each of these stories only captures one facet of her personality. 

As Rose died on a highway, she has a special affiliation for it. She can read it and is seemingly set with the job of leading those who die on it into the light. She has seen an awful lot over the years and approaches events with a fair degree of world-weariness and pragmatism. Rose might still look like a teenager but she has done an awful lot over the years to survive and get warm. Few people who recognise her for who she is and even fewer give without expecting anything in return. It was a bit of a shame that only Rose and the baddie Bobby Cross are given real depth with the rest of the characters remaining fairly indistinguishable.

The biggest problem with this book was the amount of repetition. I understand that the stories were originally published in serial format so it makes sense for McGuire to reorientate her audience at the start of them. In a book form however, it isn’t necessary and starts to grate fairly quickly. The world we are given is fascinating but I wanted to know more beyond the different classes of ghosts and routewitches. Rose’s comprehension of her world is still fairly narrow after fifty plus years because no one mentored her or explained how the system works. The pacing is slow and this effect is exacerbated as we bounce around time wise for the first two thirds of the book – it is hard to get too concerned about whether Rose will survive X event in X year if a quick glance at the index shows she’s still wandering around several years later. The last part of the book where Rose went on the attack was probably my favourite as the tension ratcheted up nicely.

It is definitely worth a read and Rose’s voice is a compelling one. Please don’t do what I did however and devour it all in one sitting. Treat it as a series of related short stories and read one or two at a time.


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