Fantasy

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown – Seanan McGuire

4.5 stars

I am TRASH for anything Seanan McGuire writes and Rose Marshall is no exception. I’m dying for more already.

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Cover from Goodreads

The second book in the Ghost Roads series returns to the highways of America, where hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall continues her battle with her killer–the immortal Bobby Cross.

Once and twice and thrice around,
Put your heart into the ground.
Four and five and six tears shed,
Give your love unto the dead.
Seven shadows on the wall,
Eight have come to watch your fall:
One’s for the gargoyle, one’s for the grave,
And the last is for the one you’ll never save.
 
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, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

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. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

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?

There’s only one way to know for sure.

Nine will let you count the cost:
All you had and all you lost.
Ten is more than time can tell,
Cut the cord and ring the bell.
Count eleven, twelve, and then,
Thirteen takes you home again.
One’s for the shadow, one’s for the tree,
And the last is for the blessing of Persephone

Bobby Cross is a mostly-off screen villain and boy do I want to run that jerk over and give him a taste of his own medicine. Stalker-dude schemes to get Rose once and for all, and if he weren’t actually good at it, it’d be comically cliche.

Rose has been dead for so long she can’t cope with the problems of the living and oh, does she describe them to us in all their squishy detail. To thwart Bobby’s schemes, and he’s got them coming and going, Rose will have to team up will familiar allies and familiar enemies. There’s a lot on the line if she doesn’t pull this off.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is more linear than Sparrow Hill Road, which makes sense once the story gets going. Time doesn’t mean much to the dead. Despite being more linear, it’s no less melancholy, romantic, nostalgic and full of moments both heartwarming and heartbreaking. You might want to have a box of tissues nearby.

I do have to note, I knocked off half a star in this rating because the ending was abrupt. We were truckin’ along and then suddenly there are no more pages, no more story and it was as if Seanan had slammed on the brakes, turned off the car, jumped out and run down the road with her hands in the air, leaving me stunned in the passenger seat with a minor case of whiplash.

That aside, I still LOVED the story, and am looking forward to a third book in the series (I hope, oh goodness please tell me there’s another!)

 

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Giveaway! Win a copy of Tricks for Free!

 

Sometimes mistakes are made, and you end up with two copies of something awesome. This happened to a friend of mine recently, and she decided to share the bounty with YOU!

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Cover from Goodreads

 

Tricks for Free is the latest installment in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, book #7. Check out my review here.

If you want to win your very own copy, entering is easy! Subscribe to Alex Can Read either via WordPress or via email and comment below to let me know you subscribed, and how. Make sure you list a valid email in the email field so I can contact you if you win!

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That’s it! Giveaway closes at 11:59 PST on April 4. Winner will be drawn using an RNG and notified via email on April 5 and will have 48 hours to respond before I draw a new winner. This giveaway is open to US and Canada.

Fantasy · Urban Fantasy

Tricks for Free – Seanan McGuire

5 Stars

Tricks for Free is quite possibly the best installment in the InCryptid series so far, which I am sort of surprised I’m saying. I love Verity and loved the Hollywood aspects of her books, while Antimony, the main character in Tricks for Free, reminds me of my own little sister and I’m just not that into theme parks. But somehow, the combination of Antimony, theme parks and a special kind of Seanan magic, and I was HOOKED.

I couldn’t put the book down.

 

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Cover image courtesy of the publisher

 

The publisher’s synopsis:

Penance, noun:
1. Punishment for past actions.
2. An attempt to pay for what can’t be bought.
3. See also “exile.”

Antimony Price is on the run. With the Covenant on her tail and her family still in danger, she needs to get far, far away from anyone who might recognize her—including her own mice. For the first time in a long time, a Price is flying without a safety net. Where do you go when you need to disappear into a crowd without worrying about attracting attention? An amusement park, of course.

Some people would call Lowryland the amusement park. It’s one of the largest in Florida, the keystone of the Lowry entertainment empire…but for Annie, it’s a place to hide. She’s just trying to keep her head down long enough to come up with a plan that will get her home without getting anyone killed. No small order when she’s rooming with gorgons and sylphs, trying to placate frustrated ghosts, and rushing to get to work on time.

Then the accidents begin. The discovery of a dead man brings Annie to the attention of the secret cabal of magic users running Lowryland from behind the scenes. They want the fire that sleeps in her fingers. They want her on their side. They want to help her—although their help, like everything else, comes with a price.

No plan. Minimal backup. No way out. Annie’s about to get a crash course in the reality behind the pretty facade. If she’s lucky, she’ll survive the experience.

All of the InCryptid novels are wild, wonderful rides of mystery, magical creatures and mice and Tricks for Free is *almost* an exception. There are almost no Aeslin Mice in this book. If it weren’t for the bonus novella at the end (first available to Seanan’s Patreon supporters and now available to the public for the first time here!) there would have been no mice. (Thankfully, we’re spared THAT horror.) That’s honestly my only complaint. Not enough mice.

Antimony is holding it together, mostly, and just trying to make it from one day to the next. But of course, the universe won’t let Annie fade away. She’s a Price, after all. And Prices are always up to their neck in one thing or another. Tricks for Free is a very strong entry in the InCryptid series and I’m already dyyyyyying for the next book in the series.

Somehow, despite my general ambivalence toward theme parks, McGuire’s description of the day-to-day and behind-the-scenes inner workings of Lowryland makes the setting interesting and engaging. There’s something about seeing below the facade and shine that draws me in. Add in Annie’s struggle to understand and control her magic, keep her identity a secret, and not crack under the loneliness of being completely disconnected from her family and from Sam and you’ve got a complex, layered, rollercoaster of a novel.

Tricks for Free is out in the wild on March 6, 2018. This is one ride you definitely want to be tall enough for.

I received an eARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Urban Fantasy

Magic for Nothing – Seanan McGuire

5 Stars

I was lucky to receive an ARC copy of this book.

Magic for Nothing is easily my favorite installment in the InCryptid series. (So far.)

A photo of the cover of Magic for Nothing.
My copy of Magic for Nothing

Antimony Price Does The Right Thing But She Is Not Happy About It. She leaves everything behind to clean up the mess her sister has made for the Price family by declaring war against The Covenant of St. George on live TV. She does it because she’s the only one who can and it’s her duty.

While following her on her (mis?)adventures, I fell in love with Antimony. I already liked Annie from the short story Blocked, but I really fell for her hard in this one. Since this book is from her PoV, we have the opportunity to see her siblings Verity and Alex through her eyes, and boy do we get her Point Of View. Annie doesn’t hold back, and I found her unfiltered commentary enchanting. Her relationship with Verity reminds me – almost painfully – of my own relationship with my younger sister and gave me a new perspective on how my own sister might see me. Eye opening, let me tell you.

This book is still 100% an InCryptid adventure – full of action, fun and Aeslin mice. Everything I loved about the first five books is there, but Seanan adds a depth to Magic for Nothing that hasn’t really been present in earlier installments, to the benefit of the story and the overall series. It’s still not a /serious/ series (and it doesn’t need to be) but there’s a new richness that makes Magic for Nothing so very satisfying.

Magic for Nothing is the sixth book in the InCryptid series. The cover of the next installment, Tricks for Free was revealed earlier this week! Check it out at Tor.com!

This review was originally posted to Goodreads March 6, 2017.