"Other Words for Smoke"

Today we welcome our first review from Lyllian Neuberger, a junior at Washington High School, and an avid reader. Some of Lyllian’s favorite books are “All the Bright Places,” by Jennifer Niven, “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green or any of the novels from the “Heroes of Olympus” series by Rick Riordan.Lyllian said she hopes writing reviews for MO Books will help her discover a love of new genres as well as new authors.

In “Other Words for Smoke,” by Sarah Maria Griffin, the talking cat in the house is the least of Mae and Rossa’s worries. In the wake of their parents’ messy divorce, the identical Frost twins seek refuge at their Aunt Rita’s home for the summer. The problem is their aunt is a soothsayer with a love for magic.

As summer in this house unfolds, the walls around them morph, changing frequencies like static—full of energy about to be released. The house at the end of the cul-de-sac is not just built of brick and mortar, and the walls are adorned with more than wallpaper covered with vines and two-dimensional shapes: inside the walls there are indescribable creatures feeding off the energies of the souls inside. Doors appear out of the blue. Nothing is right with this house.

Something is brewing, and it has an energy that’s affecting the twins. They realize that Bevan, the mysterious teenager who lives with them is not just an apprentice of Rita’s after all. The girl talks to spirits from other dimensions, making deals with a being far worse than the devil.

This book kept me enthralled locked into its pages with Griffin’s imagery, so unique and chock-full of descriptions that I could place myself in the strange house. The constant change in perspective kept the story moving, bringing interesting new takes around every corner.

The author’s use of imagery is ornate and her voice is that of a skilled wordsmith. Anyone intrigued by other worldly powers, or any young adult looking to step into the mind of a witch without the frill of wands or robes will love this exciting read. If you have a passion for the Harry Potter series, I strongly recommend “Other Words for Smoke.”