Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
The house at the end of the lane burned down, and Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. The townspeople never learned what happened. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth; they spent two summers with Rita and Bevan, two of the strangest summers of their lives… Because nothing in that house was as it seemed: a cat who was more than a cat, and a dark power called Sweet James that lurked behind the wallpaper, enthralling Bevan with whispers of neon magic and escape. And in the summer heat, Mae became equally as enthralled with Bevan. Desperately in the grips of first love, she’d give the other girl anything. A dangerous offer when all that Sweet James desired was a taste of new flesh…
I diverge from my usual puzzle background because I had a Bobby and a Sweet James and something more to make this one special.
I read Spare and Found Parts when it came out and it intrigued me. So this was in my radar and I am glad to have read it. It is as weird or more as Sarah’s first book was. And that isn’t a bad thing. However, it may mean this isn’t for everyone and that is perfectly fine.
There’s a lot of “lore” woven into this book, and a lot of history (I think much of it is Irish, but not being Irish, or English, or European, I do not presume). I also loved the focus on humanity and “lack” of humanity.
Sweet James and Bobby are both very interesting characters, as are Bevan and Rita. The twins were to me more of a “meh, visitors to the house, move on” even if they play a relatively important part in the balance of everything. Oh and Audrey.
The small footnotes make for catching you off guard and also for dropping hints to what is to come (or confusion if you loose track of things easily). his is a hard book to review, because it deals with a lot of mysticism, and with a lot of wonder, and part of the charm is to dscover this as you read rather than to know exactly what to expect. There’s a magic to that first read I don’t want to take away.
One of the things I can say is that I forgot to re-read the synopsis and plunged ahead so confusion ensued. But after quickly catching up with the back cover of the book, I went into this book with a better idea and it still surprised me.
The beginning wasn’t the strongest for me, but I loved those last few chapters were everything came together (or didn’t) and fell neatlyninto place. Things made sense and it was such an easy flow of events that it felt like it had been ready for this all time.
All in all, if you are into witchy, mystic, intriguing writes, then this is your book.