Review: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown
So I REALLY wanted to get this one put away before Halloween, what with this being an actual ghost story and all. For some reason, those don’t come along all that often. But, it didn’t happen. Them’s the breaks. Hopefully though you’re recognizing this as the culmination of the promise I made to several months back to buy and read these books after the author, Seanan McGuuire, tweeted about the freak that uploaded an electronic copy of this very book to a free download site. She was less than ecstatic about it, to say the least. Still gets me riled up just thinking about it myself. I’d like to think that book-reviewing peoples as a whole are a pretty solid bunch of honest individuals. Unfortunately they’re not all individually solid, honest people. What can you do? It’s always going to be that one guy that ruins things for everyone. Way the world is. Still, regardless of the events that prefaced me being introduced to and reading these stories, I’m really glad of the outcome. Because finding these books and fitting them into my reading schedule was SO worth it.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Amazon) is the second, and most recent, book in the Sparrow Hill Road Ghost Stories by Seanan McGuire. It picks up where the previous book, which can loosely be called a “collection” of short stories, left off: with Rose Marshall safe from Bobby Cross and a brand new “special” car for her to drive across the ghost roads of America. (Why is the car special? Sorry. No spoilers. And no pun intended either. LOL)
The story starts REALLY fast in this one. There wasn’t any call for protracted beginnings and introductions though, I guess, as the first book in the series was pretty much all introduction. There is some. Just not much before things get moving. We already know the protagonist: Rose Marshall, the Phantom Prom Date. We also know the antagonist: Bad Bobby Cross. He’s the one constant in her life… err… existence, where so much else that she experiences along the ghost roads is new and different. He’s always been there. Always will. Until one of them is finally gone, that is.
She’s hanging at her favorite diner, The Last Dance. Picking up some of that good old fashioned food that she loves — burger and a shake — and talking shop with her friend Emma, the Bean Sidhe and owner of the joint. It isn’t long though before she feels a pull. Someone is summoning her. She’s a ghost, remember? And summonings are pretty much impossible to ignore. It’s Bobby Cross, of course. And oh does he have a surprise for her. One that will destroy the protection that the goddess Persephone put upon her, opening her up to Bobby’s grasp yet again, and starts her on a trip that will remind her of everything that she is. And everything that she isn’t as well.
Seanan McGuire is just a freaking good writer. My estimation of that label means that she makes me forget that I’m reading a book. Her prose pulls me into it and I forget the world for a precious few hours while the story of her imagination subsumes my otherwise perceptive mind. I don’t find myself thinking about the details of the story; I only experience them. It seems this has been the case for every story of hers that I’ve read, and this one is no different. She makes reading easy, and I love that.
As I mentioned in my review of the previous book, I was pretty hopeful that this would be the novel that put her stuff “over the hump” for me, moving from “solid books that I really liked” to a book that I loved. And though there were aspects of this novel that I thought were awesome-sauce fantastic (characterization, keeping me guessing, and again world-building), the story felt a little too… simple. And a little too easy. Yes, Rose gets into trouble relatively quickly, and it seems like she leaps out the frying pan and into the fire several times, but there always seemed to be a direct answer to what was next. And while the previous novel ended with a killer session of “character impact”, I felt like the ending on this one was kind of lacking, and hadn’t really moved us very far at all from the conditions at the beginning of the tale.
Follow up to Sparrow Hill Road, in which we get a contiguous story about Rose Marshall, the phantom prom date, and her dealings with the wicked Bobby Cross.
Look, this is me trying to explain my head to you, but the fact of the matter is that I’m a reviewer that relies on my gut for determining where a book sits on our rating scale. And this ended up being another solid like for me. Really good stuff, but it just didn’t have that “something” that kicks me over into absolutely loving a book. You know?
It was awesome to get a single, contiguous story with Rose Marshall in it. Several players from her past come into play in this one. Seeing them in the mix was also fun and interesting. In many ways, it felt like our first real story about Rose Marshall, and I thought it was great.
If you haven’t yet given Seanan McGuire a chance, check this one out. I think these two books are both great examples of her work. Hopefully we’ll get another round of Rose Marshall in the years to come. I’d definitely pick it up, and if you’re a fan of ghost stores, it’s likely that you would too.
- Recommended Age: 14+
- Language: Infrequent but strong
- Violence: One fairly graphic scene of suicide
- Sex: Frank discussion and several references