Sparrow Hill Road

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Sparrow Hill Road Book Cover

Seanan McGuire 2014 – Ghost Roads #1

You know the legend – a driver picks up a young hitchhiker on a deserted road and spooky things happen. The hitchhiker disappears, or she causes the car to crash, etc.

Rose Marshall is that girl – she is a Hitcher. After her fiery death in a 1950 car crash, Rose is condemned to a life – well, no – a death – of thumbing rides. She meets all kinds – Road Witches, Banshees, Strigoi, and others – while avoiding Bobby Cross, the dead movie star who killed her.

This is the story of Rose’s travels along the Ghost Roads of her twilight existence. She does have to face Bobby again, at the Crossroads where so many deals are made with the Devil, but she has support from an unexpected quarter.

After you finish this book you might find yourself doing a little online research: what is a psychopomp? an ambulancer? a Strigoi? What exactly IS the legend of the Crossroads? (I was interested in the Crossroads, especially, since I’ve been exploring the concept of the road – its energy, the elements of danger and excitement, literary references, the road as metaphor. )

My friend Elaine recommended this book to me, and I knew I’d be reading / listening to it when I read in the Goodreads summary that Rose lived and died in Michigan. Ms. McGuire does play a bit fast and loose with Michigan geography; she seems to place Buckley Township near Detroit, rather than Traverse City, which is where the actual Village of Buckley is located. The details are pretty vague – but at one point, almost immediately after referencing Detroit, she describes another location as ‘downstate.’ There isn’t much downstate from Detroit, and that term is used only by residents of the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. It’s nitpicky, but it was enough of a flaw to drop my otherwise five-star review to four stars.

Don’t let that stop you from reading Sparrow Hill Road though – Seanan McGuire has created a rich, compelling world and interesting characters.

(I listened to the audiobook, which is available on Scribd. Narrator Amy Landon delivers a mostly good read – with the exception of one funny spot where she starts to voice a male with a southern drawl (“Evenin, ma’am”) and then reads the next sentence which describes the man’s accent as midwestern. Suddenly the Texas cowboy has an accent straight out of Minnesota.)

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