Book Reviews · Books

Other Words for Smoke

Book Review: Other Words for Smoke by Sarah  Maria Griffin

Published: 2nd April 2019 by Titan Books Ltd

Keywords: YA, Fantasy, Ireland, LGBTQ, Witches, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror


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’m not sure where to start with this review, it has been days since I finished reading this book and I’ve yet to pick up another. I’m generally what I would consider to be quite a slow reader but I read this in about a day and a half, every time I put it down it beckoned me back. This is also the first book not written by a Japanese author that gave me the same magical and thought-provoking feelings as reading Japanese authors does, I was hooked. (or perhaps ensnared by a certain owl)

All of the characters felt so well-developed and unique, making me quite attached to them all by the end, maybe more so to the problematic characters. I really enjoyed the writing from different character perspectives and as Bevan it is written in first person which was really interesting and made the experience more engaging. Great moments of humor as well as sorrow and there is a great sense of need and longing throughout the book presented in different forms.

I do have to point out that some parts were quite distressing to read but also raised awareness to the true horrors that occurred at the old Irish Magdalene laundries where young ‘problematic’ girls were sent and it was truly heartbreaking to read. There are also some parts with gory descriptions involving blood.

Bevans (manipulative and abusive) relationship with Sweet James was the most fascinating thing to read and I feel accurately portrayed the feelings of wanting someone who is not good for you and ultimately treats you badly.

This book really covered so much, the pains of growing up and growing apart from people, sacrifices made for the ones you love, manipulation, wonder, temptations. I felt the characters emotions, longings and their pain and know I will struggle to find another book that will have the same effect on me again. It was truly magical, Please read it.


My Rating: 5/5 Stars


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