Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
My Rating: 5/5
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…
Warnings: Abusive relationship, Sexual manipulation, homophobia, addiction to power, mentions of the Magdelen laundries, mentions of death in childbirth.
“You’ll get braver in time. In order to become brave, we must feel all that fear has to offer, then rise above it.”
There comes a time when you are absolutely infatuated with a book and you promise yourself that you’d get it, that you’d reread it, spread your love about it, and most of all, can’t read anything else because of it. That’s how I feel about Other Words for Smoke ever since I joined my favorite gals Podcast, Everybody’s Dead (check them out they are amazing) book club and the book was chosen as a recommendation by best witch girl, Lauren from Northern Plunder after her obsession with the book at the time (and even now). I was intrigued about it because I couldn’t remember when a friend of mine was talking about it with so much passion, like it’s oxygen to their lungs and without it they’d collapse. Once we started and I got into it I was falling down into a tale of mystery, horror, love, mysticism and family.
Rossa and Mae are being dropped off at their aunt Rita for the summer due to their parents relationship been tear apart. Everything seems fine until strange things start to happen at the house and it’s all due to Rita’s ward, Bevan and her relationship to this mysterious entity, Sweet James. The history of the house, this freaky owl that torments the characters, those rooms in other realms, Rita being a witch – all of that and more gives you a fabulous supernatural read. You are flabbergasted by the author introducing you to a story you can’t exactly what’s happening anymore. It’s an incredible textual read due to Sarah using both Third POV and Second POV and the notes make you question the reliability of your narrators. Are they truthful to themselves? What are they hiding from? How far are they willing to go to get what they want?
“Love’s a funny one. This is just your first go-round. You’ll love again when it’s over.”
I never got so attached with characters and their safety as much as this book. You are so in love with the twins, how rough their life is currently going with their parents fighting, and it doesn’t help that they themselves aren’t getting along. Rita and her past with her friends that were lost and her connections to Sweet James and Bobby. Even freaking Bevan – one of the most unlikable characters you end up warming up for and actually wants her to be happy even though she’s a completely self destructive woman with her desires and connection to Sweet James.
“I wish there had been a way for me to share them all with you. But secrets are kept, sometimes, for good reason.”
I would love to gush on and on about this book, and how Sarah Maria Griffin destroys you. I could rant about why Sweet James is the most horrible monster I ever read in my years of fiction. I probably couldn’t stop explaining why people should read it and love it with its representation of beautiful gay girls, the magic of Ireland, the rich dark history in between the pages and how love can be both good and bad. If you want a different type of a book and are tired of reading the same books especially in the YOUNG ADULT genre pick this one up. You won’t be sorry.
“Fear keeps a good handle on them until it doesn’t. Fear gives until it snaps.”
Is it Diverse? Lesbian MC, Lesbian secondary characters