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Ghost Roads #1

Sparrow Hill Road

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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.

312 pages, Paperback

First published May 6, 2014

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About the author

Seanan McGuire

495 books15.2k followers
Hi! I'm Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses), as well as a lot of other things. I'm also Mira Grant (www.miragrant.com), author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, I fear weather and am remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. I watch too many horror movies, read too many comic books, and share my house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).

I do not check this inbox. Please don't send me messages through Goodreads; they won't be answered. I don't want to have to delete this account. :(

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 998 reviews
Profile Image for Choko.
1,203 reviews2,583 followers
February 6, 2017
*** 3.33 ***

A buddy read with my friends at BB&B's UF Wednesday group!

I love the way Seanan McGuire can weave a tale seemingly out of thin air! In this case, she did - this is a new series about Ghosts! I have to make a confession - out of all UF creations, Zombies and Ghosts are my least favorite. This might have affected the level of enjoyment I received from this book, and in this case the rating is all on me.

We spend some very non-linear time with the legendary prom-night dead girl's ghost, Rose M. Through different stories in time we get to slowly learn about her, the way she died, the way she exists in her spectral form, and the way she keeps on hitching rides on the highways of the different dimensions. The technicalities of the existence and ways that ghosts communicate and "specialize" were fascinating! I love SM's imagination and ability to build a story out of a very thin plot... Her writing is as beautiful as always. I suspect she can write about anything and I would still get some enjoyment from it. We also have a connection to the series of InCripted, Rose being a far away ant or cousin of our favorite Price family:):):) However, there were no talking, religious mice cults, so it fell kind of flat to me... As I already said, ghost stories just don't do it for me - they have a tendency to make me blue and maudlin... Which, the beginning of the book made me very sad, and I even teared up on couple of occasions. Later the story picked-up and I began seeing where it was going at the end, so it made more optimistic sense to me:)

I did not "love" this book, but it was not bad. I just was not taken by the story and found myself looking for the end at times. However, I love the Seanan McGuire's writing and I am still going to read anything she comes up with, even a ghost story:):):)

I wish you all Happy Reading and May You Always Find what you Need in the Books you Read!!!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,662 reviews5,144 followers
August 15, 2018
#1 Sparrow Hill Road ★★★★★
#2 The Girl in the Green Silk Gown ???

I’ve yet to meet a Seanan McGuire story that I don’t like, and Sparrow Hill Road sure isn’t going to be the first. The recipe for this story includes a tablespoon of creep factor, a pinch of humor, a healthy dose of sadness, and a heaping cup of absolute lovability.

One in three hitchhikers on the North American road died long before anyone offered them a ride, and for the most part, we’re pretty friendly.

First of all, let’s talk about the lore behind this book—it’s full of all sorts of characters both living and dead, whether they’re hitchers like Rose, phantom riders, homecomers, bean sídhes, routewitches, or everyday living, breathing human truck drivers. As someone who grew up beyond obsessed with paranormal and cryptid folklore, I felt like every chapter brought a new facet to the story that filled me with absolute delight. As always, Seanan’s writing is well-researched and downright clever.

O Lord who art probably not in Heaven, deliver me from men who’ve killed me once and would kill me again, if I gave them the chance. O Lady, hallowed be thy name, get me the hell out of here.

There’s a fantastic element of suspense layered underneath everything, too; Rosie is being chased by the man who killed her once and wants to kill her again, and no matter where she is or what she’s doing, there’s always this underlying fear of the scent of wormwood and rot that precedes the terrifying man-turned-demon hunting her down.

And she looked at him, and she said, so sadly that it just about broke his heart, “No. I’ve never killed anyone. I just want to make sure that somebody’s there to see that they make it all the way home.”

Besides the spooky factor of the paranormal entities, and the suspense of Bobby Cross’s desperate search to find Rose, there’s a sadness and beauty in this book that stunned me. Maybe it’s just who Rose is, or maybe it’s because she died at sixteen years old, trapped forever in this state of perceived immortality and determination to right wrongs and fight injustice, but she spends her death trying to save others from Bobby Cross—and when he isn’t a direct threat, and all she has is the scent of lilies and ashes, time and time again, she puts herself through her own version of hell just to lead new spirits to their resting place.

I have never wanted to punch a highway in the face as badly as I do right now.

On a less existentially traumatic note, a particularly fun twist comes about in the fact that the people and supernatural aren’t the only characterized entities—the roads and cars are, too, both dead and alive. The absolute reverence and love that Rose holds for the spirits of cars, and (some of) the ghost roads, is fascinating and fun to read, especially as someone who is such a huge fan of traveling by roads (I totally hope to be a phantom rider when I die).

No one works the night shift in a diner for long without learning that the world is bigger, and bleaker, than they ever dreamed.

You see, Sparrow Hill Road doesn’t feel like just a ghost story—it also feels like a love story to truck stops and diners, the quiet night life of the rural in-between towns, and a life lived out on the open road. It’s the kind of rare story that makes you want to go get lost in the wild for a while, just to get out in the quiet and listen to what the roads have to say. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself at the Last Dance Diner, where I hear you can get the best malts this side of the twilight.

Thank you so much to DAW for providing me with this finished copy in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
May 17, 2018
I need to be very clear about this: I read it mainly because it is written by Seanan McGuire, not because I was particularly enthralled by the subject matter. I prepared myself for merely *liking* the book, not loving it.

At first, it just appeared to be a rather good character study of an already dead girl, dead back in '53, as she jaunted from time to time because that's what the dead does -- getting filled in on her after-death and the status of her urban legend ghosthood.

And then something happened. Maybe it's how Seanan approached the character, as a dozen snippets and somewhat contradictory stories, but she wrote one of the most complicated and delightfully rounded characters I've yet seen from her. Our dead heroine really came alive.

Death, tragedy, and psychopomps. It's a real roadtrip novel based in the real world and the roads of the dead, from Highway 1 to the Ocean Lady, crossroads guardians, deals with dead witches, and a ghost rider from a precursor of James Dean who eats souls to stay forever young, this entire novel rocked.

There are so many sides to it, but it's always close to the chest and raw and real.

I'm afraid I fell in love with it. It ranks up higher than Seanan's Incryptid series, easy. It probably outshines books 2 and 3 of Wayward children, too. It's hard to compare it to the whole of the Daye novels, but it is better than some of them. It's an entirely different beast from her Grant novels tho, so I won't even try to compare. :)

I honestly want more of this. Please, more Ghost Roads!

Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 152 books83.3k followers
May 12, 2014
Most people grew up with stories of the girl on the side of the road, the girl who was killed on prom night, the girl in the diner, the girl who wants to get home. Seanan McGuire, aka Mira Grant, who's also what's called a filksinger on the science fiction/fantasy convention circuit, has strung together a number of short stories about Rose, a ghost of the road who goes where she's called to help those who need her very special set of skills.

She lives in a world populated by rulers of the crossroads, routewitches, and other supernatural creatures who have sprung up for and around the roads. They all have stories and agendas, and very few can be trusted--if any. Rose finds her way through this world with brains, sass, and sheer courage, always returning to home, always fleeing the monster who killed her, and always missing the boy she was going to meet the night she went off the road.

I put this in the same company as Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS, Jane Lindskold's CHANGER and CHANGER'S DAUGHTER, and Roger Zelazny work, in the way it creates a whole new mythology on a very specific part of America. I read it in basically one sitting. and I can't recommend it enough. If you like ghost stories, if you like contemporary fantasy, if you like stories about cars and roads, if you like Seanan/Mira's work, give it a try. It's fun; it's tense; and it's beautifully sad, all at once!
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,162 reviews1,518 followers
June 2, 2018
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire is the first book of the paranormal fantasy Ghost Roads series. This series was originally released back in May of 2014 but is now being re-published. It centers around the stories of a ghost of a sixteen year old girl who many have claimed to have contact with over the years.

Rose Marshall was a typical sixteen year old back in 1952 and only wanted to head to her prom the night that she died in Buckley Township, Michigan. Rose had been run off the road causing a horrible accident by a man named Bobby Cross who was using the souls of his unfortunate victims to stay young forever.

For sixty years now Rose has been on the move hitchhiking around and coming in contact with many travelers most of which come to their own unfortunate ends. Rose often finds herself still having to run from Bobby Cross from time to time as he still travels around staying forever young.

Sparrow Hill Road was a rather creative read overall covering many different times over Rose’s sixty years of being a ghosts. The author has come up with a whole host of different types of ghosts and a very intricate afterlife to tell Rose’s story. There were times though that it could be a tad confusing jumping from one town/time period and then quickly to something else only to return back again and so forth. But in the end the creativity of the story won me over and I decided to give this one 3.5 stars.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more review please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews201 followers
February 2, 2017
I’m the phantom prom date, the woman at the diner, the girl in the green silk gown, and the walking girl of Route 42. But most of all, I’m the ghost of Sparrow Hill Road. Rosie Marshall. Just one more girl who raced and lost in the hand of the forest, the shade of the hill, on the hairpin curves of that damned deadly hill.
People call me a lot of things these days. You can call me Rose.
Now come with me.

Rose Marshall grew up in Buckley Township, Michigan, just after the depression. School and life was hard for Rose with her second-hand and patched clothes. The only good thing in her life was her boyfriend Gary Daniels. And on the night of her prom, the year 1952, Rose was the target of a man named Bobby Cross who had sold his soul for immortality and Rose was his next victim, his next payment due when he ran her off the road. And so, Rose Marshall died when she was just sixteen years old, and she’s been running from Bobby Cross ever since.

I’ve been in the dark a lot longer than I was in the light, and while I still regret the way that I died, I’ve given up on trying to fight my way back. All I want to do now is find a way to stop the man who condemned me to this twilight wandering—the one who would have done a lot worse, if I’d given him the chance.

Now Rose travels all over the country, helping travelers either to their unavoidable deaths, making sure they don’t end up lost and in danger once they’re dead, taking them where they need to go, or helping those she can to avoid their deaths. Most see her as a guardian angel and her story has been told so many times in so many different variations. She’s accumulated so many different names: the Girl in the Diner, The Phantom Prom Date, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. But all Rose wants to do is get revenge on the monster who killed her, who still kills, and who is determined to claim Rose for always.

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. It’s that simple. The blink of an eye, the final beat of a broken heart, and everything changes.
Everything changes forever.

I can’t explain in words how hauntingly beautiful Seanan McGuire writes, and how utterly she broke my heart in this book. It was devastating to read about Rose, and the more we got to see of her past before and after her death, the more my heart broke for this young girl who was never allowed to grow old, and who for over sixty years has been surviving in her sixteen year old body. Rose is tough and she’s learned to survive as she is, to find enjoyment in the little things. I loved how hard she fought for the people who were about to die and who she tried to save, and for those she couldn’t save, and who she made sure didn’t die alone.

The plot was so captivating and dark at times, and so interesting with the different type of ghosts, the ghostroads and how they were used to travel, how Rose could only become solid when a living person offered her their coat, and how she could only enjoy and taste food when one of them bought it for her. Then there was the monster Bobby Cross, a truly evil fucker that I just wanted Rose to defeat and wipe off the earth forever. HE NEEDS TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER.

“I went and died on the boy I loved, and that can’t have been good for him.”

Of course being the romance addict that I am, all I kept wondering was what happened to Rose’s boyfriend Gary, and when we finally got our answer near the end, my heart broke completely. Gary the wonderful seventeen year old who didn’t really realise how much he truly loved Rose until she was gone. His love for her was the embodiment of true love, so complete and beautiful.

I cried so much while reading this book, my eyes and heart actually felt bruised. Seanan McGuire always knows just how to completely wreck me with her beautiful writing, and this book was no exception. Her imagination and talent is amazing and if you like horror stories with a side of heartache and a gripping storyline, then this is the book for you. Keep tissues nearby, though. Highly recommended.

January 13, 2018
I'm going to re-listen the Incryptid series soonish and realized I haven't read this one yet and bought the Audio, which is pretty darn good btw. This book is actually set in the Incryptid Universe, and like all things Incryptid, I ended up loving this one as well ❤❤ This book is just so unique and weird and awesome :D This author, she writes beeeaaautifully:)) ❤

I had one major issue with that ending though

don't read this if you are maybe going to read this book xD
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
January 2, 2016
Let me open this by saying that I've read a few books by Seanan McGuire. One I gave a 4 as I recall the others I gave 3 stars. They were pretty good to okay. I didn't rush to read others or follow up the series I started but thought I might pick up another some time. This book isn't one that's typical of books I generally pick up. I read the synopsis however and the story based on the ghostly prom date seemed a good idea. I think the first time I heard of the legend was from a story i read in a Reader's Digest book back when i was a kid. So I tried it.

Now as I said, this doesn't seem like a book I'd be that enthusiastic about. The story is told from the point of view of Rose the Hitch-hiking ghost.

I want to say that while in many ways this may not be an outstanding book over all it struck me as exceptional. I will give a nod to MS. McGuire. I think the thing is that the writing itself is just so outstanding. No matter what I can say about each part of the book the novel pulled me in and I will be looking for more from the author.

I don't know what i can tell you about the book that will open to you how much i enjoyed it. Rose relates to us her "after-life" and what she does. She's been dead for 50 years (+or-) and ever since then she's been traveling the roads sometimes managing to turn people away from approaching death on the road other times simply having to be there to help the newly dead to cross over to whatever waits for them.

The same thing doesn't wait for everyone.

The world or cosmos we're building here (and the book ends with the "more to come" ending of a series) is coherent and hasn't been self contradictory. We're building a mythic system of different kinds of ghosts and supernatural beings who interact with living humans.

By the way, the book is followed by a listing of some of the ghosts in our world.

Well...anyway, I don't know how to transfer to you in a simple review how much i like this book. Congratulations MS. McGuire I love this book.

I give this book my highest recommendation. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
June 9, 2018
This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Sparrow Hill Road is a bit disjointed.  Now I’m not sure if that is literary genius because the main character is a ghost and so her life/afterlife IS a little disjointed time-wise or because that is just the nature of this collection of stories.

Rose is dead and she has been for about sixty years now but that doesn’t stop her from hitching a ride now and again and dropping into the living world to have a little bit of a good time or help someone in need.  Sometimes she is able to save them, but other times, she is only able to help them after and make sure they don’t get stuck in the in-between of life and death.

Some of these stories could be really sad, depending on how you view death.  I tried to just go with this storie's version of it; it was just a doorway to a new adventure and so it was okay when one of the people Rose tried to help live ended up dead.  At least she was there to hold their hand and make sure they ended up where they were supposed to go.

Rose is the main character of a thousand different ghost stories.  Some of them more true than others, in some she is the source of death and in others she is the guardian angel looking out for the living in diners, truck stops and on highways.  

Overall Rose is really likable and she has a pretty good understanding of her death now.  She even has a bit of a calling and a few friends to boot. Still she is always looking over her shoulder, watching out for the man that killed her on Sparrow Hill Road and trying desperately to save more people for becoming another victim to the man in the car that made a deal with the devil.

There are parts in this which made me happy and some made me almost cry.  I really loved getting Rose’s story of her death; it was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.  I have mixed feeling about Gary and his choices BUT I reserve judgement because I think later it is going to work out as a really weird type of HEA, if ghosts get those.

The world building of the twilight and midnight was interesting and I liked the glimpses we got into the different kinds of ghosts that can be made and what they might be up to.  I also really liked the possibilities this presented for future stories and other things from death lore that popped up like Valkeries (I’m very interested in those creatures). It seems like just about anything could happen and I like jumping into Urban Fantasy that stretches the norms of the genre and takes chances on new ideas you don’t see often, especially as the main focus and a dead girl being the MC is definitely not something I’ve read until now.

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
April 12, 2020
3-1/2 stars, rounded down

Rose Marshall is a "hitcher": a ghost who died in a car accident in 1956 and is forever tied to riding the roads of North America. Legends about "the phantom prom date" in a green dress abound. But Rose doesn't really care about that. She keeps herself busy trying to save drivers destined for accidents, guiding those who can't be saved, keeping clear of the man whose deal with darkness cost Rose her life but made his everlasting, and remembering the boy she loved, the one she never got to dance with at the prom.
This is a hard book to describe, because it's a series of short stories rather than a novel, although there is a plot of sorts that joins everything up. That serial nature made it a bit of a slow read for me, as a lot of information in the stories is repetitive, and by the end of the book they all felt a little same-y because of that, even as each story had its own distinct flavor. There was just no through-tension to keep me flipping the pages once I'd finished a story.

That said, this book maintained my Seanan McGuire fandom. The writing is beautiful, the mood melancholy and captivating at the same time. I loved the mythology, with the various types of road-oriented ghosts. The Last Dance Diner was a great touch (but I don't think I want to get a malted there, really). Each story presents a sort of puzzle for Rose, all of which are solved cleverly and sometimes elegantly. The last story is super sweet and provided a very creative, if slightly weird, resolution to the book as a whole. Overall, it was very enjoyable, and the sadness that seeps through the book will haunt me in a good way.

One comment about the cover: It's awesome! But that Asian-looking girl in no way represents the way Rose is described in this book. I prefer the cover girl to the 'real' one, and she will forever be my mental image.

Sort of read with the Buddies Books and Baubles group, although I lagged everyone else. I'm glad the buddy read gave me the kick to pick this up.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
744 reviews139 followers
February 7, 2017
Sparrow Hill Road is set in the same universe as the InCryptid series. And yet it's a very different book. In this novel we take a look at the afterlife. Or rather the afterlife of those who do not move on when they die. Apparently there are a lot of different kinds of ghosts inhabiting the different levels of Earth but here we mostly meet with all the different types of road ghosts - the ghosts of people who died on the road. As you can guess the main character is one such road ghost. More specifically a hitchhiker - a peculiar type of ghost that can borrow life from a freely given jacket (or whatever outerwear you can think of) and get a good meal if it's offered. And because the MC is a ghost there was always a sense of sadness, of hopelessness throughout the book. I don't know if that was Seanan McGuire's idea but part of me always felt bad because I knew there's no happy ending for Rose. Not even the possibility for one. Slowly but surely this book broke my heart. One story at a time. And when we reached the part where I was crying.

But despite all this, SHR isn't a depressing book. In a way it shows how resilient Rose is. Her inner goodness and strength. There were funny moments, some really weird moments and the typical Seanan McGuire humour and banter. All in all it was a compelling book that made me appreciate life.
Profile Image for Celeste.
908 reviews2,342 followers
September 3, 2017
Full review now posted!

What a fun little journey of a book!

I found Seanan McGuire only recently, through her Wayward Children novellas. Those are beautiful and deep and weird and sad, and they moved me. This little book, a hybrid of a short novel and a short story collection, was a radically different animal. McGuire’s writing was worlds different from what I first experienced in Every Heart a Doorway, so much so that I honestly would’ve never guessed that they were written by the same author if not for her name on the cover. I’m incredibly impressed by McGuire’s chameleon-like ability to change her voice as a writer. The writing here wasn’t as pretty as that in her Wayward Children books, and it wasn’t meant to be. The prose in Sparrow Hill Road is entertaining about all else, with an almost noir feel to our main character’s thoughts, reminiscent of old school detective stories. It was a blast to read.

Rose Marshall is a known all across America. She’s the Girl in the Diner, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown. She’s the Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road, and her reputation always precedes her. But she’s not as bad as some of the stories make her out to be. She just wants to hitch a ride, borrow a coat, and help doomed drivers find their way home. And if someone will buy her a burger somewhere in the mix, even better. Rose died on her way to prom when she was sweet sixteen, and she’s been busy ever since, hitching her way across America and helping everyone she can. This book is a taste of her life on the ghostroads of the United States, and there’s never a dull moment.

McGuire created such an interesting American mythos here, the likes of which I haven’t read since I devoured Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Imbuing the roads that run through our nation like arteries with life and power and personality was an incredibly unique concept. The various road ghosts and routewitches that populate the different levels of these roads, those among the living and those walked by the dead, were fascinating and varied and well fleshed-out. But my favorite idea McGuire presented here was the personality and loyalty that love from an owner can give to their car. Reading about a big-rig truck trying her hardest to protect her driver in a crash, and then the spirit of that vehicle following said driver into death and onto the ghostroads, was such a sweet thought. Cars and trucks that had been well-loved were viewed almost as a hybrid of a loyal dog and a spouse, and I thought that was incredibly original.

If you’re a Supernatural fan, that view of a car will probably bring to mind Dean’s ’67 Impala, lovingly named Baby. I had her in my mind frequently as I read. Actually, I thought about the show almost the entire time I read. If you’re a Supernatural fan, you should definitely read this. The boys would've loved to come across a ghost like Rose. There aren’t enough stories out there told from the perspective of a ghost, especially a friendly one. I wasn’t aware that this book was an off-shoot of one of McGuire’s larger series, InCryptids, but it stood just fine on its own. That being said, I'll definitely be reading the InCryptid series soon.

If you love a good ghost story, give it a read. If you love the idea of a hidden American mythos, you’ll dig this. And if you love the show Supernatural, you’re in for a fun ride.

Original review can be found at Booknest.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,564 reviews2,312 followers
September 23, 2022
Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Roads, #1)
by Seanan McGuire
I loved this story! I love ghost stories and this has the charming and the not-so-charming ghosts. This is about a teen that was killed on her prom night. Later, that hit-&-run killer dies too and hunts the girl ghost because she got away. She has some of these stories and more stories of how she tries to prevent accidents and tries to be there for accidents to help guide the newly dead. My emotions were everywhere! Loved it!
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,864 reviews371 followers
September 15, 2016
It pains me to give a book by Seanan McGuire less than 4 stars. Truthfully, I would give it 3.5 stars if I had the option. In this case, it is truly not the book, it is me. I’m just not that into ghost stories, although I liked this one as much as I am capable of enjoying a ghost story.

Those of you who have been reading my reviews for a while will know that supernatural aspects to books send me to bed with the covers over my head more often than not. Both The Shining and The Haunting of Hill House required that I read them only during bright daylight hours and then I had to distract myself with other literature as the shadows lengthened. So I was pleasantly surprised when this book was told from the perspective of the ghost, Rose. It made all the difference in the world to me, and I wasn’t bothered by my usual scaredy-cat feelings at all.

McGuire does for the ghostly world what she did for the cryptid world in her Incryptid series—she catalogues, names, and assigns limitations, duties, and dangers to each type of spook. There is even a passing reference to the Healy family (part of the Price family amalgam in the Incryptid books) which makes me believe that Sparrow Hill Road takes place in the same weird North America as that series.

The book reads more like a series of short stories which follow one another chronologically. Rose is a “hitcher,” a spirit who must hitchhike and who can sense which drivers need her help to avoid accidents or other mishaps. As in McGuire’s October Daye series, smell is an important sense—in that series, October can identify each member of the Fae by the scent of their magic. Her own smells of copper and cut grass, if I recall correctly. Similarly, Rose diagnoses what kind of problem she has been summoned to through the combination of smells that emanate from the mortal she comes in contact with.

Although this will never be my favourite of McGuire’s series, I’m sure that I will read future volumes in it should they be published. I read this to fill the Ghosts square of my Halloween Book Bingo.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews262 followers
February 27, 2018
This was not what I expected after reading the books sysnopsis. I thought it was going to be a single story telling when in reality it was a collaboration of short stories and novella length stories all focusing on the legends surrounding Rose Marshall, a ghost, and her battle against the man, now ghost, Bobby Cross that killed her and set the path for her ride the ghost roads for eternity.

That being said, Seanan McGuire pens magical tales that catapults the reader into a world of myths and legends. This is not a HEA type of read, with a heavy dose of dark urban fantasy...its a ghost story what else could you expect.

I received this copy of Sparrow Hill Road from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review.

My Rating: 4 stars
Written by Seanan McGuire
Series: Ghost Stories
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: DAW (2014)
ISBN-10: 0756409616
ISBN-13: 978-0756409616
Genre: Urban Fantasy | Ghost Stories

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sparrow-Hill-R...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spar...
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook...

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Profile Image for Liz Townsend.
169 reviews
June 3, 2014
I read this in it's serialized version online and was blown away. I love love love the idea of taking a well-known ghost story and viewing it from the POV of the ghost. I understand there has been some editing done for this printing, I'm looking forward to re-reading a final novelized version of the tale - I really hope there have also been additions to Rose's story, I was sad to see it end the first time. I'm optimistic that, since this is listed as book one in the "Ghost Stories" series, there will be more after this one!

For now, though, join Rose Marshall and take a ride down the ghost roads, slipping into another America where route witches and ghosts take care of the lonely wanderers and just try to make sure everybody gets to where they're going: the end of the line.

**UPDATE - so I read the print version and it's just as good as I remembered. Except for one (I only noticed one, anyway) short chapter/story that was missing from this version. I get it, it didn't really fit with the main story arc of this novel. It would, however, make an excellent jumping off point for the next book in the series... I'm just saying. Here's hoping, anyway. I hope we get to see more of Rose, and if not her specifically, then at least some more "Ghost Stories" in the series.
Profile Image for Alice Liu.
Author 3 books18 followers
April 26, 2014
I had a hard time getting through this book because it was so repetitive. There is a languid feel to the storytelling, which is fine, except that it never really changes pace. What began as a slow, detailed introduction to the Ghost Road was repeated many times within the same chapter. Seanan McGuire writes beautifully in her descriptions, but rather than saying something new, it seemed like she was finding different ways to say the same thing. I felt like each small section had been written individually rather than as part of a cohesive book, and looking at other reviews, it seems that is what happened. Hence, the constant re-introductions to the Ghost Road and the lack of pacing. Despite the issues I had in reading this, I thought the concept itself was brilliant. It's an entirely new kind of road story where the road itself is a character. I also loved how McGuire took standard mythological and supernatural creatures and gave then completely non-standard characteristics.
Profile Image for lucky little cat.
546 reviews104 followers
May 4, 2019
Seanan McGuire fans and adorers of urban legends (especially tame, car-culture-heavy ones) take note.

This tale of a do-gooder/ vigilante dead hitchhiking prom queen might just be your cuppa. Think 1950s-era Buffy without the entourage.

The characters are likable, and the episode where our phantom prom date educates a bunch of paranormal investigators is a hoot. The action unspools as a series of interrelated short stories which betray their pulp-magazine origin with fast-moving plots and oft-repeated paragraphs of exposition at the beginning of each story. (Shouldn't the editor have fixed that for the anthology?)

And is it too bratty of me that when our prom queen started enumerating the rules that govern when she's corporeal, I caught myself thinking, "But those are arbitrary. The author made those rules up just now"?

Seanan McGuire fans, true believers, and urban legend lovers may have no such qualms.

Playlist Included

“Weep For Us Little Stars” Guggenheim Grotto
“Mercy of the Fallen” Dar Williams
“Lollipop” Ben Kweller
“The Living Dead” Phantom Planet
“Earth Angel” Death Cab for Cutie
“Barton Hollow” The Civil Wars
“Arizona 160” Amy Speace
“El Viento del Diablo” Bruce Holmes
“Dance in the Graveyards” Delta Rae
“Heads Will Roll” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“By Way of Sorrow” Julie Miller
“Shadows of Evangeline” Tracy Grammer
“Life is a Highway” Tom Cochrane
“Thunder Road” Bruce Springsteen
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
June 24, 2014

Well, I am somewhat disappointed with this story, due to it's promising premise!

I loved how in the short "Ghosts of Bourbon Street", this ghost world, and its characters were presented to us readers; but I'm afraid that as a full length book, this became quite repetitive.

Apparently this was written in a serialised format, and reading it, that becomes painfully obvious so.

As usual with everything everything written by this author, the world building is described perfectly, and the rules of it are thoroughly explained to us, but in the end, I felt that during most of the time I was reading Rose's _the leading character _journal.

Okay, she's dead, and according to the rules she's been living by, "life/death" is no longer as straightforward as it used to be.

But as I kept turning the pages, the pace never changed and neither did the storyline.

Also the constant repetitions _a side effect I'm sure of the serialized format _ of how everything worked in that world, became really boring.

I understood the importance of a free given jacket by the living to the dead, the first time I read it.

I understood the cold she constantly feels in her ghost state...

I understood why she has to keep hitch-hiking, and why she has to keep on the roads...

I understood why she seeks warmth -all types of it -everywhere she can.

Ad infinitum....

However, when it comes to this last part, and since this is coming from a ghost, someone, that knows intimately just how hard life can be, I disliked the almost romanticized aspect of she accepting to have sex with every guy who wanted it _this part is just mentioned.

During most of the time, this was the basic idea I got while reading this: I understand that by accepting one of these rides, I'm accepting everything they want, and that's fine by me.

What can I say? Just that I find hard to believe that during sixty years on the road she only met guys who only wanted to have sex with her, and not one, who tried to kill her.

Okay, she's a ghost, things are different, but I don't know, this didn't work very well with me.

And yes she can be killed _ again _while she's corporeal _wearing a living person's jacket.

Luckily for her, those moments don't take long.


The romance in this, is really only just a dash of it, and the little there is, is enough to break one's hearts.

Well of course it is, right?

The girl is dead.

I won't lie by saying that I was not expecting a very different "end game"... to something that ended up happening, and which honestly I quite disliked ~strange and disturbing mix of Knight Rider with an episode of Ghost Whisperer~ *shivers*.

The supporting characters did their part, and in the end, I guess it just depends on the amount of patience you're willing to give to this story.

Great premise, great characters, but in the end, the pace of it, basically killed things for me.

Profile Image for Kira.
1,241 reviews132 followers
November 20, 2015
More like 2 1/2 stars. It was really well written. The descriptions of the world were enjoyable at first until they became incredibly repetitive. The reason for that is because this novel is essentially a collection of stories that are loosely connected. There is an overarching storyline amongst the stories, but it doesn't move the plot forward. Once one story was finished, the urge to keep reading and find out what happens next wasn't there.

There were considerable descriptions of the world and of the creatures in it. Yet the specifics of how the world works wasn't given. I wanted to know more. Some of the characters were likable, but most of them really lacked depth. Except for Rose, only one side of each character was seen. So there weren't really shades of grey. All the characters were either good or bad.

This was worth reading. If it had been formatted differently and was a true novel instead of this odd blend of stories and a novel, I probably would have given it a higher rating.
Profile Image for Jody McGrath.
352 reviews52 followers
August 4, 2017
Really interesting story about the urban legend ghost Rose Marshall, the Prom Date Ghost or The Ghost at the Diner. She ha other monikers also. It told her story in mostly the present, skipping back to the past to fill in holes now and then.

The annoying parts were these out of story info dumps about world building that didn't pertain to the story. The seemed to lead each chapter. It took me out of the story and had me setting the book down a lot more than I normally would.
366 reviews37 followers
July 22, 2020
This is a book that could be very puzzling unless you simply ask no questions of it, sit back, and let the excellent writing flow in whatever direction the author chooses. I did that and quite enjoyed the ride, so a very solid three stars from me.

Part of the potential puzzlement to inquiring readers may be due to the origin of this work (and my thanks to Melindeeloo for the lead) as a collection of short stories by Seanan McGuire that appeared in a semiprozine (online only?) called Edge of Propinquity, published from 2006 to 2011 and apparently still archived at www.edgeofpropinquity.net. The collection was re-edited with the inclusion of new stories for release in 2014 by DAW as the present book.

The main character in all the stories is Rose Marshall, a legendary ghost who died in 1952 at the age of sixteen while driving along Sparrow Hill Road to the Buckley High School Senior Prom. Because of the manner of her death she became the type of ghost called a "hitcher," and this is where McGuire's brilliant originality starts to bear fruit. There are hundreds of types of ghosts, and not everyone who dies becomes a ghost; ghosts are special, and we meet only a few of the different types. Each type has a particular mission (if that's what I should call it--I did say this world was puzzling, didn't I?) and is influenced by powerful non-ghost supernaturals like routewitches and my favorite character, Emma, who gives wonderful new meaning to the word banshee.

And Rose's mission? Always appearing as a sixteen-year-old girl, Rose shows up along roadsides and at truck stops all around the country to ask for rides from drivers who are about to die in a road accident. She's drawn by a smell of lilacs and ashes to accompany them in both life and death because she's also a psychopomp, which in this case means a guide who takes a newly released soul along the ghostroads as far as the Last Dance Diner, where she points the soul in the direction it needs to go. The Last Dance Diner, which changes to the Last Chance Diner when things get dire, seems to be Rose's home base if she has one, and Emma seems to be in charge of it.

There's also the notion of ghost cars traveling on the ghost roads, the notion of daylight vs twilight vs midnight as sensual metaphors for three levels of reality, and the notion of moving by small stages between levels, for example being in daylight with a little bit of twilight--that last would be Rose along the highway, able to speak and be seen but still incorporeal like a hologram until someone freely gives her a coat, whereupon she becomes fully corporeal for a while. The world McGuire has built is totally original as far as I know.

I agree with Valerie when she says the writing "meanders and floats in a manner that is easily evocative of a haunting." That was exactly my feeling over the several days of following a multitude of jumps backward and forward in time between 1952 and 2015--something that worked well, I thought, in the film 21 Grams and works passably here, more to develop the characters than to flesh out a definite plot. I felt at the end that I was left with an ongoing series of overlapping stories, some of them sad and some of them even exciting, but inconclusive overall. I was particularly touched, though, by the final outcome of Rose's relationship with her teenage boyfriend Gary.

Recommended with the reservations I've given.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,038 reviews647 followers
April 25, 2018
The stories contained within this book all focus on Rose Marshall who died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan. It was her prom night. A dance she never attended because a man named Bobby Cross who sold his soul to ride the highways forever ran her off the road.

Originally published in serial form, the book follows Rose in a non-linear timeline from her death in 1952 to present day. McGuire shares stories about this ghost who is known by many names; the phantom prom date, the woman at the diner, the girl in the green silk gown, and the walking girl of Route 42.  She is most commonly referred to as the ghost of Sparrow Hill Road.

I’m the phantom prom date, the woman at the diner, the girl in the green silk gown, and the walking girl of Route 42. But most of all, I’m the ghost of Sparrow Hill Road. Rosie Marshall. Just one more girl who raced and lost in the hand of the forest, the shade of the hill, on the hairpin curves of that damned deadly hill.
People call me a lot of things these days. You can call me Rose.
Now come with me.

McGuire shares different events that occur on the highway as Rose travels.  Along the way, we meet routewitches, crossroad guardians and roads that are alive. The story has royalty within the ghostly realm, vengeful humans, and ghosts. We even meet a be`a sidhe (banshee). 

I loved the hierarchy, rules, and roads as the author fleshed out the world of the non-living. I came to care for Rose and secondary characters, even her nasty relative. The story has a bit of everything from death to romance.

The suspenseful thread surrounding Bobby Cross allowed me to experience suspense and chills. While I wouldn't classify Sparrow Hill Road as horror, it does have spine-tingling moments that only a good ghost story can deliver. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
Profile Image for TL .
1,825 reviews35 followers
January 22, 2020
Slowly getting my reading groove back.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,324 reviews155 followers
November 16, 2018
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.

Sparrow Hill Road is the first book I've read by Seanan McGuire and I liked it. The story is original for an urban fantasy and I really appreciated that about the book. The combination of ghost story and urban fantasy was what really made me want to read this book in the first place and the book really delivered in that aspect. Rose was pretty likable as the main character and I also really liked some of the supporting characters.

The book had a couple of weaknesses for me, one being the format. It's written as a bunch of different stories instead of one continuous story with some connecting threads running through the whole book. It is Rose's story after all, so she is relating different things that have happened since she died, with a small part being dedicated to what her life was like before she died, and also how she died. I wasn't too crazy about the way it jumped around from one time to another, sometimes in the middle of one of the stories. It wasn't a complete turn off, but it isn't one of my favorite types of storytelling.

There was also the whole bit about Rose paying her way sometimes with sex. This was the one thing in the book that bothered me the most. Because Rose died on the road in a car accident, that resulted in her becoming a road ghost who hitchhikes her way across the country. If she can convince the driver to loan her his jacket or coat (any type of outwear will do) she can borrow a bit of that persons mortality for a little while. This results in her being able to actually have a mortal body for a short time period. Sometimes Rose would hitch a ride and the driver would expect something in return and she would trade sex for the ride. That's just too close to prostitution for my liking. However it was only mentioned a couple of times in the book and no details were given.

The ghost world in this book feels a lot like a purgatory. Rose can't see past it because she is stuck there and it is her reality. She knows a lot of ghosts end up traveling the ghost road, sometimes with her help, onto another place, but she doubts that it is any better than where she is. She has lost any faith that there is a better place, or that there is a God, although she does pray to the God she doubts exists several times in the book. I enjoyed this aspect of the book and under the circumstances, could understand why Rose felt the way she did, even though at this point, I think there is a lot she doesn't know or understand.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for giving me a copy of this book to review.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews205 followers
April 30, 2014

Rose Marshall died in 1952 at the tender age of 16, and she’s been haunting the highways and byways of America ever since, helping the new dead get where they need to go. It’s not a terrible afterlife…after all, when someone gives her a warm coat and a cup of coffee, she becomes flesh and blood, at least for a short time, and she can enjoy being among the living again. It may not be much, but she definitely doesn’t take a hot cheeseburger and crispy French fries for granted. Her hub is the Last Dance Diner, full of chrome, round edges, and shining upholstery; a throwback to the year she died, and a poignant reminder of when she was alive. The Last Dance is manned by Emma, a bean sidhe without a family to protect, and is a safe haven for Rose, and other hitchers like her. Unfortunately, Rose’s death wasn’t an accident, not exactly, and the man at the root of it, Bobby Cross, is still out there, preying on innocents. Rose has always wanted to stop Bobby, and she may soon get her chance, but at what cost?

I loved this book. I guess I could stop there, but… Sparrow Hill Road is told in first person by Rose and is alternately presented in present day and flashbacks, skipping through time as deftly as Rose falls through the layers of twilight on the ghostroads. Sparrow Hill Road isn’t one of those books that takes its protagonist, gives her/him a big problem to solve, and points them in the right direction, eyes on the prize and nothing else matters. Rather, Rose’s story is a somewhat meandering one, but that’s not a bad thing, because the stories she shares about her time, and her duty, on the ghostroads, are all necessary to who Rose has become by the end of the book. She’s definitely not that 16 year old girl anymore, and there’s a road weariness to her (rather appropriately) that only serves to highlight her aura of melancholy. That doesn’t mean Rose is unhappy. She’s not, and in fact, she takes a certain pleasure in her “job” and is rather frank about the things she can experience now that she, erm, never got to experience before her death. However, her memory of Gary, the boy she loved and planned to marry, is always with her, and carries a sadness all its own. For some context, Sparrow Hill Road takes place in the same “world” as Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series and she’s created this wonderful ghost world where each spirit has its place, and some are better left alone, and a world where cars can become imbued with spirits, taking on a life of their own, which she uses to fantastic effect at the book’s conclusion.

You’d think Rose would be bitter, but she’s not, and that’s part of what makes this book so special. Stopping Bobby Cross is important, but it’s become more than just a means to avenge her own death. When she cocks her thumb and waits for her next ride, one gets the distinct impression that she waits in pleasant anticipation of who she will meet next, and there’s a certain freedom for her being on the open road, having a cup of coffee and a cheeseburger with Emma at the Last Dance Diner every now and then, and of course, helping the newly dead home, or wherever it is they choose to go. This unusual, sometimes dark, but rather lovely and even poignant, book is a road trip that I was glad I took, and if things aren’t wrapped up in a neat bow at the end, that’s ok, it just means there might be more to come from Rose and her very unique friends.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,309 reviews3 followers
June 4, 2014
I love it when I find a story that is different and non-typical. I really enjoyed this one. It didn't blow me away, it grew on me as I listened to more of Rose's story.

Rose tells of her after-death experiences in a serial type format which I enjoyed very much. She is likable, quirky, funny and strong when it counts.

The writing in places is nearly poetic. Beautiful use of imaginative metaphors.

We learn about the love Rose had for her boyfriend on that ill-fated night of the prom when she lost her life. We hear of his love for her. This story is not really a love story, but certainly there is a love story to be found within it. A sweet and poignant one.

The story gives a glimpse of the lives (for lack of better term) of some of the dead, and those who interact with them. Told from her point of view, it fleshes out the folklore/urban legend/ghost story of the tragic spirit who is only realized to be a spirit after she is gone, leaving a borrowed coat behind. And it does it quite well, I think.

It appears this is planned to be a part of a series of such ghost stories, and I will certainly be interested in reading another.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,067 reviews383 followers
February 12, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with a review copy, only asking for an honest review in exchange!

Seanan sure knows how to pack a punch. Many of these short stories leave you feeling sad for Rose Marshall, hitchhiking ghost. Many of them leave you hoping that if these ghost roads are real, that Rose Marshall is real too and out there helping ghosts move on and getting rid of old haunted roads.

But mostly, they leave you wishing Seanan would continue the story. :) Luckily for us, she IS continuing the story in The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, coming in July 2018!!! So excited!

I can't wait to see if any of our favorite Incryptid characters make a guest appearance, but mostly, I'm ready to see Rose finally defeat the obnoxious, evil, dastardly Bobby Cross!
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