OTHER WORDS FOR SMOKE by Sarah Maria Griffin. Review.

OTHER WORDS FOR SMOKE by Sarah Maria Griffin.

Titan Books. p/b. £8.99.

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.

Bevan is young, beautiful and interesting, and Gus is interested in her. She has it all and craves even more. What Rita doesn’t see, she can’t put a stop to, and Bevan takes full advantage. It has become more than the cards and their messages that tempt her and she will do her utmost to indulge herself in all of the secrets this house has to offer.

The twins are growing apart, their differences becoming more and more clear to both of them. Tensions are running high so perhaps a summer trip to their Great-aunt’s house will be the remedy in bringing Mae and Rossa back together. Or will he be left feeling alone, outside it all?

Two women were gone, never to be seen again after that terrible event. Mae and her brother were there, that whole summer, in Rita’s strange house, though they would never speak of the horror they felt there with anyone else. Not to the journalists. Not to anyone. They escaped. They walked away to remember the tale. Bevan and Rita did not. Not exactly.

Beginning with Bevan’s tale, allowing the reader to better understand her ‘why’s’ and ‘wants’, Other Words for Smoke also tells the story of Mae and Rossa’s summer at Rita’s and the discoveries the young people make there about themselves, each other and their hosts. The narrative then broadens to tell the stories of other summers at the house and reveal more of the wonderful horrors within.

Griffin writes a captivatingly sinister and curious tale whose magical elements drift insubstantially just outside of the readers’ comprehension. Tantalisingly vague, yet depicted with a powerful pull, Sweet James and the magic surrounding these young peoples’ stories are unique, and presented in an almost-romantically written prose that explores young lust and love with a deft hand.

A beautifully crafted tale that exceeds expectation.