Bingo review 12: Green
In some ways, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown was actually my introduction to Seanan McGuire; it was the first book of hers that drew my interest, but it wasn’t the first thing of hers that I read. I’m just only now getting to it. It turns out the titular green dress actually has some meaning in the story, but it’s also a handy reason to use it for this bingo square.
This is book two about Rose Marshall, who was killed by Bobby Cross in 1960-something. He’s made a supernatural bargain that makes it so he doesn’t die as long as he feeds souls to his car, and he tried to get Rose but it didn’t work. She became a road ghost and got away, and he’s been chasing her ever since. When she died, she was on her way to her prom with the love of her life Gary (they’re now back together and it’s pretty interesting how that progresses since they’ve both had 60 years of experience between falling in teen love and now), and she was in fact wearing a green dress to said prom. Sometimes, she reverts to wearing it when she doesn’t mean to. This is all a big part of both the previous novel in the series as well as a major factor in this one.
Bobby nearly catches Rose again at the beginning of this story too, and he does manage to weaken her protection from Persephone. Rose’s main goal becomes figuring out how to restore this protection, which ends up meaning she has to re-incarnate, and then die again to reset things. Naturally this process does not go as planned, and Rose ends up having to get help from friends and foes(?) alike.
The thing I like most about this series, and it might be my favorite of this author’s, is the mythology involved which is both familiar (Greek and American mostly with a few Celtic touches) but also interesting. The system of the American road-based after-life is pretty incredible, and the invocation of nostalgia works so well, even if you’re (like me) too young to remember or experience the glory days of American car and road culture.
This is my kind of ghost story; it’s got a cool mythology that’s recognizable and well thought out, it’s got interesting characters that have some complexity when they need to (like Laura) but also are just pure themselves (Bobby) when it suits. There’s also the mysterious but also kind of known characters like Apple the Queen of American routewitches, and Emma the beán sidhe. These two, and a few others, clearly have their secrets, but we know what need to, at least for now. The horror factor is present but it’s not the main thing, it’s more suspense than anything else. There’s also some happy and some ambiguous endings, with a good conclusion to the story, but enough left open that there could be room for a few more novels. I wouldn’t mind that personally.