By Cynthia Ayala
“Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea. It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running. They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her. You can’t kill what’s already dead.” —Goodreads
Who does not love a good ghost story? Sparrow Hill Road it is such a great ghost story because it is not linear this story goes back and forth between decades to capture Rose’s story.
That is the beauty of this novel, the fact that the story is not linear and focuses on Rose’s journey. It is captivating how the story breaks the fourth wall to tell the story. She addresses the reader, giving the reader a sense of what she is about to experience, allowing the tension to build, to explore the narrative and the impact of the scene. Rose has not had a comfortable afterlife, filled with running, car crashes, and haunting the roadside. Each chapter is so different from the previous, but the story maintains fluidity.
Each passage has power, cultivating this incredible character. Moreover, her journey is unique. It is impeccable writing and storytelling, to create such a beautiful and compelling story, and not the typical ghost story either. When stories tend to shift back and forth following a nonlinear pathway the reader can get lost. However, none of that happens here because each section is just its own story but just a smaller part of a whole. That is what makes it so great and why writing is compelling because each story, each section, is supposed to be a powerful moment in this character’s life. Each scene has a powerful message to convey to the reader that tells more than tells the reader about roses story and his history, but it also gives insight into who roses as a person.
However, enough about just the storytelling which is impressive, but it is also the characterization. Rose is such a believable character. For a dead girl, she has such vitality and spunk which makes her amazing. Life dealt her a tough hand, but instead of being resentful, she has hope, she has an edge to her that keeps her alive. Rose is a great character to follow, to see her emotions leap off the page to make this novel spark, chapter after chapter. There’s hope, which is excellent. The novel is following a dead girl, a girl who was driven off the road on her prom night, and yet the hope is not lost in the narrative. Rose is a strong character who wants revenge but doesn’t let it blinds her. She wants to end Bobby Cross, the man who lives from taking lives from innocent people who are unluckily enough to cross his path. However, she retains her strength; she is smart, she is resourceful, bright, and spunky. Everything makes her breathtaking; they make her come to life and give a new side to the typical ghost story.
All in all, there’s a vibrant cast of characters in the novel, various ghosts, fun adventures and a heartwarming story. It is a great way to start a series giving depth and realism to a ghostly world. (★★★★☆ | A)