Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing with you my review of White Smoke, the new young adult thriller from Tiffany D. Jackson. A big thank you to Harper Collins for my ARC of this ghostly tale.
Content Warnings: Racism, drug use, representation of obsessive behaviour, discussion of drug overdose, fire, parents in prison
Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.
The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.
But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?
As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this book a little while after reading it! I found the pro-drugs stance to be difficult to read, even if it was just the perspective of the protagonist, having been on the recieving end of domestic violence that always escalated while he was under the influence. I’m well aware that gives me a bias, and I’m being up front about that before I write my review.
I sympathised with Marigold from the very beginning, as she feels the weight of the move on her shoulders, feeling completely responsible, and blaming herself because of her ‘episode’ prior to them leaving California. On top of that, she is very aware that she needs to demonstrate she has turned a corner, but is doing so while still battling her demons. It’s obvious that she could have really done with more therapy than she was willing to admit to prioir to leaving. She’s also balancing out her paranoia and her cravings for weed to try and control it, which becomes a vicious circle that she’s caught in the middle of, all while trying to keep a face on front that allows her to seem in control.
What I did really love about this book was the sibling dynamic between Mari and her brother Sammie. They obviously adore each other, and are so close. He looks up to her despite what she sees as her failings, and this helps boost her confidence in herself, giving herself permission to move forwards. And across the process of the book, the dynamic with Piper, their new sister, shifts multiple times, which is very interesting to follow.
It does manage to be incredible atmospheric, and the spooky aspect makes you do a little shiver at times as you’re reading; some of the stories, and some of the things that Marigold finds out are certainly things you wouldn’t want to know about you own home! The book is very clearly thought out and well plotted, ready for you to pick up this Autumn.
Thanks for stopping by today. If you’re in the mood for something spooky, consider one of the following as well: