Summary

Years ago, the house at the end of the lane burned down. The townspeople never learned what happened, but Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth of what happened that summer—and they’ll never say a word. When they were told they’d be spending their summer with their great aunt, Mae and Rossa were anything but thrilled. But nothing at Rita’s is as it appears. Bevan is enthralled by a dangerous power lurking behind the walls of Rita’s home. The power—known as Sweet James—is hungry, and what he wants most is a taste of the twins. And Bevan wants the magic and escape that Sweet James is offering her. But Sweet James is never satisfied, no matter what Bevan brings him. Mae would give Bevan almost anything—she is in the grip of first love, both dying for Bevan’s attention and worried she’ll get it. But Rossa is learning some of the terrible secrets the house is hiding, secrets that paralyze him with fear. As the summer draws to a close, Bevan tries to free Sweet James from his prison within the walls, but is thwarted by Rita and her cat (who is more than a cat), Bobby Dear.

It’s over for Mae and Rossa, isn’t it? They return home. They don’t talk about the strangeness of that summer. But it never completely abandons them. And things at home only get worse.

And so three years later, Rossa and Mae are sent once again to Rita’s home, as their parents’ marriage finally seems to crumble. At first it seems that the strangeness has dissipated. But Sweet James never left. He has been lurking within the walls, waiting the perfect time to return. He’s been waiting much longer than any of them know—any of them except Rita, who has been keeping secrets of her own. Secrets that bring the house down in flames around them and bring them all to the brink of the things they most want—and what they most fear.

Sarah Maria Griffin is a rare talent with a unique and atmospheric writing style. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints and Libba Bray’s The Diviners will devour this dark and unusual novel.

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Review

Hey, fellow readers! Have you started your reading goals for 2019? Let me know if you have and how many books you’re hoping to compete by the end of the year! I’m going for 50! Anyways, today, I’ll be talking about Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin.

First and foremost, I’d like to state the moral of story: don’t have wallpaper in your house. Just use paint to decorate your walls instead. Just kidding! There is no such thing as moral or definitive lesson in complicated stories. And this book was definitely that. Not only are there multiple POVs that aren’t labelled and leave you guessing who it is sometimes, but there are so many mysteries in this novel. Some of them are only meant to be viewed for a moment and never heard of again. Others are more likely to be mentioned later, especially in relation to Sweet James and Bobby Dear. By the way, if a character is named Sweet James, that’s a red flag for disaster!

Anyways, that’s all I have to say about Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes a good thriller, or Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand. Have any questions about Other Words for Smoke? Send them my way via the Comments Section! And for those of you who are interested, this book is in store on March 12th, 2019.

Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

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