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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 wanted to read some spooky horror books and I’m also in the middle of reading through Tiffany D Jackson’s backlog, so White Smoke came out at the perfect time. This is a good one!
I always enjoy Jackson’s writing style, and I tend to enjoy her darker themes. White Smoke was no different. It includes gentrification, underage drug use, as well as the criminalization of marijuana users. Among other things, of course. For such a short book, this covers a lot. Oh, and bed bugs.
Reading about Mari going through all this horrific stuff and also dealing with anxiety and OCD was tough. I felt very connected with Mari, although I would have preferred to have seen her build up a couple of relationships more. Her relationship with her brother, Sam, though was LOVELY and I need more of this in YA.
I really enjoyed the horror elements and I found them outright creepy at times. That doesn’t happen often with horror novels, but in some places I even found myself jumping a little. Creepy children are the WORST, let me tell you.
I really hope Jackson writes more horror books (Harper, make it happen!) because she clearly enjoys writing them. She does an excellent job at building suspense, and I was a bit scared to read the next page in some cases. That’s exactly what I want from my horror!
I’ve seen some comparisons to Hill House (false, imo) and also Get Out (yep, I see it). I think White Smoke is its own thing, but I do understand the Get Out parts because the neighbourhood in this was… not all right.