Potential favorite new author alert! I had heard of Seanan McGuire before; I saw something related to one of her more recent novels (Middlegame) which got my attention and now physically sits on my TBR bookcase. That is a longer book though and right now I don’t really have the time or energy, so instead I put in a request at my local library for Sparrow Hill Road. I had seen the sequel in a bookstore and thought it looked really interesting but I figured I might as well start with book 1, and also library in case it turns out I didn’t like it. Turns out, I liked it a lot.
The world is incredibly interesting and the characters are really relatable in a lot of ways. This is a world where American car culture has influenced the afterlife. If you die in a vehicular-related way and become a ghost, there are different types you could become, there are ghost roads, ghost cars, and even parallel worlds that overlap between the living and the dead. There are also living people with closer connections to the world of the dead, and there are beings who aren’t quite one or the other (living or dead).
The story is also a really good ghost story: Rose died in a car wreck caused by Bobby Cross at the age of 16 in 1952. The story moves around back and forth in time introducing Rose and her adventures as she tries to survive and maybe even help people who are close to or just passing into her world. Each episode gives you a little more about Rose, her world, and why Bobby ran her off the road in the first place (hint: evil villain stereotype reasons) and why he’s still after her even though she’s already dead.
There’s a lot of suspense in following Rose, not just because of wondering what’s going to happen with Bobby, but also in watching Rose try to help people, save people (including herself), and just navigating the rules of the American road afterlife; those rules and world are really interesting and kind of melancholy but still hopeful, with a good does of nostalgia for diners. The end of the story is the same way: the main problem is no longer an imminent threat but a lot of possibilities for further adventures. I will most certainly be picking up book 2, and getting to the newer book sooner rather than later.