Review: Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Other Words For Smoke

Author: Sarah Maria Griffin

Release Date: April 2nd 2019

Publisher: Titan Books

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Book Depository| Waterstones| Wordery


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…

A Beautiful story with such poetic flow.  A strong and prominent storyteller.  A story that seeps magic, betrayal and wonder straight from the heart of the pages.  The author uses the English language like an artist uses a muse.  It’s well-crafted and unique. 

The synopsis jumped out from the screen at me.  I just adore anything magic.  Talking cats, magical creatures behind wallpaper and a mysterious room with neon lights.  I loved everything this book stood for.  The cover is beautiful, and it just screamed for you to read it.  The horror side of the story really took me by surprise, and on the most part it worked very well. 

The story follows twin siblings, Mae and Rossi.  They have sent to their Great Aunt’s for the summer.  The mum and dad seem to have major problems and it seems like a great idea for the twins to spend the rest of the summer with an aunt that he have barely seen or had any contact with.  It’s a summer of witchy delirium and figuring out what your place is in the world.  The story for sure epitomises the expectation of how summer holidays feel at the age of fourteen.  If ever there was a strong representation of an Irish story this is it.  The descriptions, the language and the folklore that the author incorporated into the story was heart-warming. 

There was certain things that I couldn’t gel with no matter how much I wanted to love the premise of the story.  I finished the book and didn’t really know how to feel about it.  I usually know by about a couple of chapters if I’m going to love or hate a book but with this one, I’m not sure if I felt either.  The prologue starts at the very end and then tells the story backwards if you will.  We flip between several point of views and at times it can be difficult to follow which direction and with whom its headed in.  There were a number of big revelations/ events that with the writing didn’t appear to be very big at all.  There should have been more explanation, more emphasis on whether these were extraordinary things or not.  I found myself flicking backwards to work out if they were going to be big things, in general I just felt mightily confused. 

It’s more a story of self-discovery.  A journey from being a teen into an adult.  Life can be difficult, and we don’t always get what we want.  Its definitely a right of passage story.  Love can hurt, and so can life but it’s all the little positive things that you can take from the experience and move forward.  The story is basically about Mae.  It’s the self-discovery of her sexuality and how she goes from being confused to owning it in her own right.  Her naivety and shyness blooms into her becoming a self-assured and confident young adult. 

18 thoughts on “Review: Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

  1. I feel you about not knowing how you feel when you finish reading a book, at that point you know it will be a 3 star, right? It’s always so hard to explain, but you did a great job and despite certain things, I’m glad you enjoyed most of the aspects 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book really sounded that it could have a lot of potential but oh well, I still might give this one a read if I could get a copy because talking cats + magic = ❤️❤️ (On a shallower note, that cover looks gorgeous!) Amazing review~

    Like

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