I’ve never had a particular fear of bedbugs, but call me a convert. Tiffany D. Jackson’s YA ghost story slash psychological thriller White Smoke is a masterpiece for the ages and the perfect read for anyone looking to get terrified this Halloween.
Marigold’s family is of the blended variety, but there’s little (um, zero) harmony. Mari’s fresh out of rehab after an accidental overdose, and won’t anyone (especially stepfather Alec) let her forget it. There’s something strange going on with Mari’s annoying little stepsister, Piper. When the family moves from California to Midwestern Cedarville, Piper becomes all BFF with imaginary old-lady ghost Ms. Suga, and Ms. Suga wants Mari gone. Not creepy at all. Not creepy at all. SO CREEPY I WANTED TO PEE MYSELF. I mean, there’s more creepiness than just Piper. There are noises — CREEEEEEK — and hands reaching into showers, ghosts showing up in rooms, and then the entirety of Maple Street is like something out of a horror movie set: abandoned, derelict, burned down houses with the quaintly and perfectly restored home of Mari’s family smack dab in the middle.
Tiffany D. Jackson is a master storyteller. This book will make you question everyone and everything, and even yourself. When the powers that be comped this as The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out, they were not kidding. White Smoke is a masterwork of thematic poignance, delicious intrigue, and straight-up horror . . . but is it really horror or “just” a psychological thriller. Get ready to doubt everything you read at every turn. And if you’re searching for a read that’ll leave you looking over your shoulder, jumping at every sound, White Smoke is gold! The prose is lush and immediate. Your eyeballs will stumble over words to get to the next sentence. The pace is breakneck at times — and it’s brilliant! Threads are woven with complete mastery to a jaw-dropping climactic finish. The resonance of which will stay with you long after the final page.
What’s more to love: main character who’s vegan, struggles with addiction, recovery, anxiety representation, panic attacks, food allergies, sibling bonds (Mari’s brother is the sweetest kid), Mari just feels real (I mean, she’s not always likable, you won’t always find her relatable, but when do we ever find other people’s actions a clone to our own, right, never, that makes real life so annoying).
With a plot that will hook you from the first paragraph and a protagonist who’ll make you deeply invested in her character arc, this ghost story is not just one thing it is many — and one of them is frighteningly scary.
Book: White Smoke
Published: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Age Range: 14 – adult
Book Sparks kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.