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Other Words for Smoke

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 ratings  ·  234 reviews
When the house at the end of the lane burned down, none of the townspeople knew what happened. A tragedy, they called it. Poor Rita Frost and her ward, Bevan, lost to the flames. Only Mae and Rossa, Rita’s niece and nephew, know what happened that fateful summer.

Only they know about the owl in the wall, the uncanny cat, the dark powers that devour love and fear. Only they
ebook, 352 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Greenwillow Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,001 ratings  ·  234 reviews

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Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Love is love no matter what kind of soul you are or where you're from."

I love messy, helpless queers crushing hard on people they can't have. Oh the bittersweet taste of unrequited love. I also love unapologetic female characters that don't take shit from anyone. This is exactly my kind of book.

My heart was lost from the very beginning. Sarah Maria Griffin writes with a voice that is one part beautiful, the other part fiercely intelligent, both parts dangerous. You'll cut yourself if you get to
Gabriela Pop
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Yet another mindblowing novel from one of Ireland's most promising voices. Sarah really outdoes herself in this one. I'd loved her previous work and was highly anticipating this novel, so my expectations were set high from the get-go, yet it felt like they were somehow exceeded despite that.
At the core of it all, this is a novel about power, love, fear and the marks our actions leave onto the world, all interwoven with complex threads of family and magic. The book follows the story of a set of
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this a week or 2 ago and have been trying to get my thoughts in order to leave some sort of review.

I have to say I was expecting an all together different story when going into this without reading the synopses and from first impressions of the cover, I also don't think I have read anything that I could compare it to.

It is a coming of age story and one that contains lust, betrayal, magic & witchcraft. Not to forget Bobby Dear - the talking cat, and Sweet James the owl in the wall that
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting tale filled with magic, betrayal and the lengths people will go to get what they want.

“Other Words for Smoke” creates a twisted fairy tale like story when a set of twins are sent to live with their Aunt for the summer and upon their arrival they find that things are not quite what they seem with a game in progress between two forces with everyone who crosses the threshold becoming the unwilling participants.

This book creates a world where fantasy and reality sit side by side wit
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
This is so cool so far! ... buuuuut it was my "finish or set aside/DNF" title for the week, and sadly, I do not have the motivation to finish it tonight, so I'll pick it back up soon. ♥ (pls don't hate me Lauren!)
Aly (In Wonderland)
"It won't. It'll get huge, for a while. It'll walk around your veins and your stomach. You might even feel it in your rib cage, or your heart, like the songs say. But eventually it'll get smaller and smaller and will run out of steam, until it's a tiny thing that you barely remember. It'll get replaced by other loves."

I came close to DNFing at least 40 times whilst reading this book. Don't get me wrong, Other Words for Smoke is beautifully written. Griffin has talent in making even t
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019

The pros: Other Words for Smoke is a compelling, dark, magical story that makes the haunted house trope into something quite new and fresh. The writing style was both beautiful and very fast and easy to fly through. I enjoyed the weirdness of it. The writing was really its strength. I really liked the setting of this strange house and its strange inhabitants. There is a talking cat, which ALWAYS wins me over. I love books with talking cats, I can give you a list of books that I love that co
Théo M. (bookswiththeo)
4.5 stars

Howl’s Moving Castle and Coraline vibes. Will definitely be reading more of Sarah Maria Griffin.

Possible new favourite author.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i'm in love with bobby dear and sweet james and this book is weird weird weird.
Charlie Anders
This is a fascinating coming-of-age story with magical elements that feel both grounded and properly mystifying. Mae and Rossa are twins whose parents are slowly coming apart, and they get sent to live with their great aunt Rita and her teenage ward, Bevan, for two separate summers. They soon discover that Rita's house is no ordinary place --- it's one of those spooky houses with a mind of its own, where the rooms change shape and configuration sometimes. Plus there's a talking cat named Bobby, ...more
I received this book from Titan Press in exchange for an honest review.

Mae and Rossa are staying with their Great-Aunt Rita and her teenage ward Bevan for a whole summer, and neither of them know what to expect - until they get there and realise that Rita and Bevan are witches and a talking cat lives in the house as well as an evil entity called Sweet James who takes the form of a terrifying owl.

This is a really interesting tale with subtle magic that flashes powerful at times, and an underlying
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
* Rated 3.5/5 stars!
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blog Post:


*I was provided with a copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

This was without a doubt one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read. There are just certain special books that manage to create an atmosphere when they are read, that surround you and submerge you deeper into the story, and this was definitely one of those books. I don’t think that I could accurately co
Beverley Lee
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book with absolutely no idea what it was about. And that, I think, is the very best way. I'm not going to give you a brief outline because that would mean you go into it with expectations, just trust me when I say that the writing is strong and lyrical, the story rich and diverse and enchanting.

It had a very Gaiman-esque feel to me with layers of magical realism pulsing through the narrative. I loved all of the characters, which is very rare. The author has a wonderful voice and,
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019

Beautifully written, wonderfully weird, gay ladies, talking cats, honestly what more do I need in a book?? Docking .25 star cause I wish we got a LITTLE more explanation about everything
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
“A girl handing it all over to the beasts. Maybe she wanted freedom, too, or maybe something else, something bigger. She was a house for the monsters, herself.”

Because of the prose in this story, which is beautiful and heavily florid, this story can sometime seem like it drags. But because if the prose, it also has a sense of the liminal: it transgresses the border between reality, and magic.

This is a really beautiful story, and sometimes I loved it and sometimes I didn’t. With this style of wr
Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
Recommended by Lauren @ Northern Plunder.

I'm so grateful Lauren put this book on my radar again and again until I finally caved and read it, because holy wow I needed this in my life. Full review to come!

content warnings: (view spoiler)
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CONVERSION : 13.7 / 15 = 5 stars

Prose: 8 / 10
Characters & Relationships: 10 / 10
Emotional Impact: 9 / 10
Development / Flow: 9 / 10
Setting: 10 / 10

Diversity & Social Themes: 4 / 5
Intellectual En
Claire M.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-lit
mayyyybe a 4.75 because i didn't really see why the constant switch to 2nd-person was needed for bevan's pov. this is unlike anything i've read, although elements of it remind me of twin peaks.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an absolute stunner of a book. Impossible to pin down and describe read this book for the unbelievable use of language. Narrative poetry - is that a thing? I forget but this book is it.
A treasure of family relationships, love, fear, a wretched history and magic realism this was a joy to read. I took my time because it is so well written that rushing through it would be a disservice. I got the impression each word was carved out exactly so and the results are stunning.

Highly recommended
Three and a half stars for this inventive take on practicing witches. For fans of Alice Hoffman who can handle writing that’s a little more grit and a little less whimsical, Other Words For Smoke presents a coming of age tale that makes you question everyone’s motives. While the story follows our protagonists for a few years, a lot of the character development is left to the reader’s imagination. Despite this, the creative mysterious elements kept me reading until the last page, where the conclu ...more
Friends. Ladies. Gals and pals. Do you like reading stories about sapphic girls? Can I interest you in some lightly-drawn but still absolutely heartrending allegories about the history of women's rights (or previous lack thereof) in Ireland? How about some WITCHCRAFT, and the most deliciously spooky vibes of any book I've read in months, if not years? THEN DO I HAVE A REC FOR YOU!!!

Other Words For Smoke begins at the end, with the prologue taking place after all the other events of the novel hav
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you so much to Titan Books for sending me a free copy of this book to review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I've just this minute finished reading this book and I'm at a loss for how to review it but I'm going to give it a go. At the heart of this book is a story about love, obsession, manipulation, fear and betrayal.

This books follows Mae and her twin brother Rossa over two summers who go and stay with their Great Aunt Rita and her teenage ward
We've been blessed with another fantastic book by Sarah Maria Griffin!

There is honestly so much to love about this book. I could rave on and on about it for a long time. It's so atmospheric and has such a strong voice. The characters are so palpably real. Even though the book is about a haunted house and magic and witches, the bits that shine the strongest are how real the characters are. You can really feel their fears, anxieties, desires, leaping off of the page.

Also, obviously, I loved that
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
DNF at 50%

I wanted to love this book.

A coming of age story taking place inside a haunted house powered by living creatures in the wall and plenty of magical elements held the promise of a compelling and atmospheric read.

I found the actual story was only beginning at the half way point of the novel. Just as things began to pick up and I thought I'd have a better understanding of the sinister spirit in the home, the author set the story aside to offer up brief vignettes of events taking place all
At its core, this book is a story of love and fear, magic and betrayal.
When twins Mae and Rossa spend a summer at their great aunt Rita’s, they unknowingly become pawns in a game being played by two powerful forces.

I found Other Words For Smoke a strange yet totally compelling read. I was hooked from the beginning and barely put it down.
The haunted house aspect gave it a chilling air that kept you captivated throughout and the characters were interesting and not always what they seemed.

Jun 25, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Sarah Maria Griffin wrote Spare and Found Parts, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi about bisexual Nell with a mean streak and a mechanical heart so of course, I'm reading this book about twins and dark secrets and other interesting things mentioned in the super long blurb LOL
Emer O'Toole
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I gobbled up this witchy YA novel, which balances sophisticated social metaphor with captivating, fleshy (or feathery as the case may be) characters. A terrible event, which anyone familiar with Ireland’s historic treatment of unmarried mothers will recognize, tears a cut in the fabric of things, letting new powers into the world. Our twin teenage heroes, Mae and Rossa, must learn to navigate a house haunted by the energies of the past if they are to find a place for themselves in the future. A ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book despite having a rather rough start and a weird middle because the writing is really unusual for me. I haven't read that much books about haunted houses and witches and there's this weird change in narration in between which kinda threw me off.

Narration has to be the weirdest part of the book for me that needed a lot of getting used to. This is probably the first book I've encountered that switches between third and second person POV randomly. I was honestly so confu
I doubt this review will be much use to anyone, I have no idea what to write and that’s basically because I’m not even sure what I just read. This book made next to no sense to me and I’m looking at all these 4 and 5 star reviews on here and wondering if I even read the same book?? Clearly this was just very much not for me.

One of the POV’s is written in second person and honestly the weirdness pretty much started there. I really dislike second person. Also this character was such a selfish bra
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Sarah Maria Griffin lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a small red brick house by the sea, with her husband and cat. She writes about monsters, growing up, and everything those two things have in common. Her first book, SPARE AND FOUND PARTS, is out now.

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