Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hitchhiking Ghost

Usually I like to save my ghosts stories for Halloween, but sometimes, a ghost story falls into the campfire ghost story category and therefore must be read in the summer/camping season.  Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire is just such a book and thus has been read in heat of summer.  How did I like it?  I'll tell you, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'm gonna try and get back go shorter synopsis 'cause if you want that many details, I'm gonna assume your gonna go read the book.  Rose Marshall is dead and has been dead since 1952.  Her manner of death (car accident) has led to her becoming a hitchhiking ghost. She is able to gain a measure of "life" if a person voluntarily gives her the equivalent of a jacket and she is able to use/taste/feel, anything given to her willingly.  She travels the dayside world thumbing for rides and either helping people avoid accidents, or when unavoidable, she helps guide people where they need to be after they die (almost always in a car accident).  When she isn't dayside, she inhabits the twilight side of life/death, hanging out with her bean sidhe friend Emma (who can act as a human to let her taste food) at the Last Dance Diner.  We learn that Rose was killed when she was run off the road by a man by the name of Bobby Cross. Bobby Cross made a deal at the crossroads which allows him eternal youth as long as he feeds his cars souls that he can take as long as they fit certain criteria (I never understood exactly who he could and couldn't take).  Rose's spirit got away from him and now she spends her time avoiding him and hitchhiking.  Since she has been doing the hitchhiking ghost thing for so long and all around the country, several legends have grown up around her, she is called The Girl in the Diner, the Phantom Prom Date, or the girl in the Green Silk Gown.  Most of the book is little snippets and stories of her time in the dayside, interspersed with her battle (or lack of) with Bobby Cross.  The book ends with Rose challenging Bobby for her friend Emma's life, which she wins, with the understanding that he can keep chasing her.  Rose gets Emma back to the Last Chance Diner and she end by telling us she will continue hitchhiking on the dayside.
Let's start with the good.  I liked the stories of Rose's time hitchhiking the best.  I enjoyed the different people and situations she encountered and I liked how she had to work within the confines of the rules of her ghosthood, and how she also used them to her advantage.  I liked how the various stories and legends about her death and subsequent hauntings/appearances grew and changed and spread.  The vibe was neat as well as it was very North American road inspired...almost like a cross country road trip with a ghost.  I always like it when North America gets it own shot at making mythical history.  On to what I didn't like so much.  The overall vibe of the ghost world was a weird mix of confusing and complicated, and overly angsty.  The book was written in first person, which we all know is not my favorite, and this is an example of why.  I felt (and this is strictly my opinion) that we got stuck in Rose's head way to much as she would wax philosophical about life, death and the afterworld.   It got very repetitive, using the exact same phrases over and over.  It's possible that since the book was broken up into different time period snippets that the author was trying to create the feeling of being in that moment, and that other moments were being written at different times, but to me the result was a lot of repetition that wasn't needed.  Rose would also allude to other types of ghosts, and types of living that touched to varying degrees into the twilight...but we never really got a whole lot of solid info on these beings.  Take routewitches for example.  They play a pretty significant role in this story, but I never really got a clear picture into who or what they were, what there actual role (other then moving the story along) was, or what the rules for their existence was.  Overall it made for a bit of an uneven read that I would have liked better if it had either stuck with mostly "ghost" stories, or a more cohesive world.  I give the book 6 out of 10 malted milkshakes and would recommend it to people who like a good ghost story with heart. Happy Reading Everybody!
What type of ghost would you be?  How far would you go to obtain eternal life?  Is it bad that the idea of being able to change my clothes at will makes it almost cool to be a ghost>

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