November 14, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "The Girl in the Green Silk Gown"

Title: The Girl in the Silk Green Gown [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Ghost Roads (2nd of ?? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2018
Age: 14+ (but I shelved it as Adult because the lead, though technically 16, has been around for decades as a ghost)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Engaging character voice. Creative spin(s) on a few classic urban legends/classic mythology. Humour, depth and heart.
Cons: If dead characters who hate to be back in flesh (all the relative bodily functions included) and do everything in their power to revert to ghost aren't your jam, chances are you won't like this. (Please note though: attempted suicide is NOT involved).
Will appeal to: Urban legend fans. Readers with a penchant for dead characters who know how to come alive on the page.

Blurb: For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right. The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Afterlife + Seanan all know nothing can go wrong here, don't you? 😉 This is the second installment in the Ghost Roads series, but the first actual novel (the previous book was a short-story collection), and there's already a new one in the making, and from the sound of it the story should be over by then, and I never want it to end.


Rose Marshall's afterlife is a never-ending, more-deadly-than-deadly tug of war with Bobby Cross, the man who killed her but couldn't keep her. At first, Bobby only wanted to fabricate a new ghost to feed to his demonic car; but since Rose managed to escape, all he's ever thought about is revenge. Persephone's blessing (in tattoo form) should keep Rose safe...but something goes wrong, and now the Girl in the Green Silk Gown is alive again and doubly powerless - both as a supposed runaway teen in a world where no one can vouch for her and as a former ghost who doesn't have any protection from Bobby anymore. Except Rose is the girl who needs help but doesn't need saving (MY QUEEN), and leave it to her to find that help in the most unexpected place. This spans an adventure at the junction of the human world and the supernatural one, the kind of adventure that would be entertaining and exciting on its own merits, but that, thanks to the wit and wisdom and humour and heart McGuire infuses her characters with, becomes so much more[...]


You know, McGuire writes characters so effortlessly (I mean, I'm sure it's not the case, but that's what she tricks you into thinking 😉) that they latch onto you and sort of become family, no matter if their thoughts, feelings and experiences mirror your own or not. I've been in love with Rose since Book 1, and ended up loving her in this second installment too, but I have to admit that here, for just a tiny moment, I felt...not disconnected from her, but a bit annoyed by her contempt for mortality and everything that comes with it, and even more by her revulsion for all the normal bodily functions and her frequent hammering that they made her miserable and she didn't want anything to do with them (except, of course, she didn't have a choice). But here's the thing - Rose hasn't been flesh and blood for six decades, and while she would have given anything to regain a corporeal existence at first, she can't (and won't) fall back into it now. She has an identity and a purpose, and though she's the closest thing to human the afterlife has to offer, she stopped being "human" a long time ago. So I gradually realised that everything about Rose in this book was consistent with the Rose I met in Sparrow Hill Road, and I was able to see things from her perspective even when she couldn't always seem to do the same with us (listen to me, talking about her as if she were REAL. See? I proved my point. McGuire writes characters who get a life of their own. I'm starting to think I could really meet Rose on a highway, if I only had the chance to travel to the U.S.). And, wasn't long until I fell in love with her all over again. The juxtaposition between ghost Rose and human Rose gives us a character who's fierce and vulnerable at the same time, except she's always resourceful and strong deep down, and able to write her own destiny, and I loved everything about it. 


As with the first installment, this new foray into the Ghost Roads is both its own thing entirely (ghost roads - duh - and ghost cars, highways turned goddesses, itinerant or multilayered diners, unheard-of Halloween rites) and full of nods to classic urban legends/mythology. I'll go as far as to say this is one of the most nuanced/rich book worlds I've ever visited. But the characters (whether supernatural, human or in-between) sure are on par with it - and as a whole, their relationships are as complex and nuanced as the world McGuire created. Some of these relationships are uncharted territory for a few different reasons, and I thoroughly enjoyed to see them play out ALSO because they read so fresh to me. Heartfelt and funny, cozy and exciting, secular and magical, TGITGSG is another fascinating installment in a series that blurs the line between fantasy and reality, and whose incorporeal creatures - just like Rose when she borrows a jacket from the living - become flesh and blood as soon as they take residence into your head. Because, mind you, they will.

For quotes from this book click here.
For my "Sparrow Hill Road" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Angel of the Overpass" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For more Adult books click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.


  1. I love the sound of the highway and roadtrip setting- that seems like such a potentially fun urban fantasy environment and one that hasn't really been explored yet. Love the sound of this.

    1. "that seems like such a potentially fun urban fantasy environment and one that hasn't really been explored yet."
      Not that I know of. McGuire has such unique ideas!

  2. Her books are 50/50 for me but her stories are so inventive. I'll probably give this one a shot at some point.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I hope so! Remember that the fist installment is a short-story collection though.


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