The Girl in the Green Silk Gown – Seanan McGuire

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads #2)The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Sparrow Hill Road so much I walked into a bookshop minutes after finishing it to purchase the sequel, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, which I tore through with gusto. A more traditional novel, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown did not begin life as a series of short stories later “fixed-up” into a longer work, like its predecessor. Instead, McGuire set out to tell more of road-ghost Rose’s story in long form. I relished the twists and turns of the tale, as the cat-and-mouse pursuit from book one again stands as the narrative through-line, only darker and more dangerous. Rose’s journey took her many places (a hitcher has to keep moving), echoing the episodic structure of the previous book, and delved deep into themes of trust, identity, coming of age, the burdens of power, and choices. Familiar characters populate the highways and byways of Rose’s quest, and I was on the edge of my seat wondering if she’d defeat Bobby Cross or be destroyed in the attempt, wondering who might betray her and for what price. It’s rare that I genuinely wonder if a main character will make it to the end (it’s almost always obvious they will, no matter how harrowing the writer thinks they’re making the story), but McGuire kept me on tenterhooks and I love her for it.

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Sparrow Hill Road – Seanan McGuire

Sparrow Hill RoadSparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I orbited Sparrow Hill Road for years before finally reading it when I got a free copy in my swag bag at the 2018 World Fantasy Convention. It was worth the wait, and I loved it as much as I hoped I would. I love linked short stories, and this book introduced me to the term “fix-up,” coined by sci-fi writer A.E. van Vogt in the 1950s to describe the trick of linking up previously-written short pieces into a novel with some tweaks and/or the addition of new material to create transitions. I had not read any of the short pieces that comprised Sparrow Hill Road on their own, and I thought it worked really well as an episodic novel. The main character – a hitchhiking road ghost named Rose – and her through-line story – a cat-and-mouse game with the man who killed her – lent themselves well to the format. Also, McGuire has a way of making things work, seemingly through sheer charisma but really because she has a deep understanding of what makes stories approachable and structurally sturdy. I don’t read her for fancy language or post-modern stylistics. She delivers strong character voice and good plain fun every time.

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