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 picked up Sparrow Hill Road during the spring in one of my mid-semester book buying binges. It is a ghost story told from the ghost’s POV, so I waited until October to read it.
Sparrow Hill Road is an interesting collection of stories that meld together in a non-linear tale of Rose Marshall: the Phantom Prom Date, the Ghost in the Green Silk Dress, and the Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road. Rose is left as a sixteen year old for eternity and is charged with helping the ghosts of the road find their way home. She is also stuck running from the man who stole her life…
I liked it. I was a little shocked because the novel received such mixed reviews on Goodreads but I actually liked how it read like a collection of short-stories with each chapter dedicated to one specific event. It was fun reading the vastly different stories and watching how McGuire makes everything flow together seamlessly. I also enjoyed Rose. She is strong, snarky, impatient, arrogant, and just fun to read. Her personality is perfect for a teenager who has spent decades walking the ghostroads and dealing with death.
The short-story collection approach does have its downside. The beginning of each chapter provides an eloquent, yet lengthy, analysis of life on the ghostroads. It got repetitive…fast. I was also not a fan of the ending. It just happened abruptly, leaving one main plot point unfinished and obviously setting the stage for a second book. I’m fine reading the second book but I had expected more closure at the end of this one.
Nevertheless, I recommend it if you are looking for something paranormal but vastly different from the norm. Sparrow Hill Road is much different than the other McGuire novels I have read, and I am pleased to say it is a strong piece in it’s own right. Has anyone else read Sparrow Hill Road?