by Seanan McGuire
Series: Ghost Roads #3
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Lady of shadows, keeper of changes, plant the seeds of faith within me, that I might grow and flourish, that I might find my way through danger and uncertainty to the safety of your garden. Let my roots grow strong and my skin grow thick, that I might stand fast against all who would destroy me. Grant to me your favor, grant to me your grace, and when my time is done, grant to me the wisdom to lay my burdens down and rest beside you, one more flower in a sea of blooms, where nothing shall ever trouble me again.
Rose Marshall died when she was sixteen years old and on her way to her high school prom. She hasn’t been resting easy since then—Bobby Cross, the man who killed her, got away clean after running her off the road, and she’s not the kind of girl who can let something like that slide. She’s been looking for a way to stop him since before they put her body in the ground.
But things have changed in the twilight world where the spirits of the restless dead continue their “lives.” The crossroads have been destroyed, and Bobby’s protections are gone. For the first time, it might be possible for Rose to defeat him.
Not alone, though. She’ll need every friend she’s managed to make and every favor she’s managed to add to her account if she wants to stand a chance…and this may be her last chance to be avenged, since what is Bobby Cross without the crossroads?
Everything Rose knows is about to change.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »
This is the third book in this urban legend-inspired ode to the road, and this book shouldn’t be read without reading the previous books. If you’re like me and are behind on the InCryptid series, this also contains major spoilers for the eighth book (That Ain’t Witchcraft).
“Rose Marshall, called the Phantom Prom Date, called the Angel of the Overpass, called so many, many things by so many, many voices. You’re a broken mirror of a girl, aren’t you? Reflecting what others want to see. When’s the last time the face in your mirror was your own?”
The Crossroads is dead, and so is Rose. One of those is more surprising than the other, as Rose finds when a tantalizing prospect is hung in front of her. Without his benefactor’s protection, there’s a good chance she can finally put an end to Bobby Cross, the man who made a deal to live forever in exchange for filling up his car’s tank with souls. He killed Rose, but failed to catch her soul, and she’s been running from him ever since. Ending Bobby – if it’s even possible – is something that’s attracted the interest of more than one power, but undertaking it could risk the afterlife of Rose and all her allies.
“Life is determined by the way you enter it. So is death.”
One of the things I’ve loved about Rose’s story is how it deals with fate versus choice. Rose reminds us multiple times that she’s a hitcher, and she has a set job to do, just like all of the other residents of the twilight (or below). How you died determines your afterlife, much like where and to whom you’re born determines your living life. Rose has always defined herself as a poor girl from the wrong side of town, someone who hitched herself (heh) to her boyfriend in hopes of getting out, but that’s not all she is. A regular hitcher would never have worked so hard to save the niece that betrayed her, nor would she have managed to gain Persephone’s blessing. And while Bobby may have taken her life and so many other choices from her, it’s Rose’s choice whether or not to continue to let him define her afterlife. A large part of the story is her realizing exactly how much she’s changed in the time she’s been dead, including a few flashbacks of stories from her early days as a hitcher that highlight just exactly that. It’s a meandering and slow-paced book, where even in the midst of action, Rose’ll take a handful of pages to go off on a tangent. After all, as she reminds the reader, she is dead and has all the time in the world!
“I’ve walked these roads too often to be anything other than what I was always intended to be.”
As with everything the author writes, the world building is excellent, and hauntingly atmospheric. It’s poetry to an era that doesn’t really exist any longer, except for long haul truckers perhaps, and it left me hungry for a malt and a burger. There’s check-ins with familiar characters, from homesteads to goddesses, and everything is wrapped up nicely. I’m not sure if this is the last book in the series, but it’s definitely the end of this particular arc for Rose.
“I can tell you’re trying like hell to be reassuring, and I hope you realize that you’re fucking it up every time you open your mouth.”
“Hey, I’m a psychopomp in service to the Goddess of the Dead,” I say. “Reassuring isn’t in my tool kit.”
Overall, despite the slow pace and multiple detours, this is a fitting end to this part of the story, and I will very much be hoping to see more Ghost Roads books in the future!