Happy Monday! Today we are delighted to be hosting the cover reveal and exclusive excerpt for Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin, a haunting coming-of-age story set in Ireland which is out this spring.
Without further ado, behold! The smugglerific cover!
About the book:
Years ago, the house at the end of the lane burned down. The townspeople never learned what happened, but Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth of what happened that summer—and they’ll never say a word.
When they’re told they’d be spending their summer with their great aunt Rita, Mae and Rossa were anything but thrilled. Nothing at Rita’s is as it seems: a cat who is more than a cat and a dark power called Sweet James that lurks behind the wall, enthralling Bevan with whispers of magic and escape.
And Mae is equally as enthralled with Bevan, desperately in the grips of first love she’d give the other girl practically anything. A dangerous offer when all that Sweet James desires is a taste of her and her brother…
So begins the strangest summer of their lives.
An excerpt of the novel:
Nobody knew what made the three of them from Iona Crescent up and walk out of the world. The rumors were different, depending on who you spoke to. Accident, attack—nobody could say for sure, except for Mae Frost and her brother, Rossa. They were there when it all happened, but they were sworn to silence in the way so many survivors of horror are: their tongues held by something beyond their control. Mae wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to say any of it out loud, even if she was asked. That second summer, away up in the hinterlands where the suburbs kissed the mountains, had stolen the words from her. The language that matched her confession was lost.
Afterwards, when dear old Rita Frost and her ward, Bevan Mulholland, were gone, the national media descended on the twins. Microphones and cameras desperate to harvest their sorrow and turn it into headline ink. Lucky was what those headlines had called Mae and Rossa. Lucky, like a spotting a bright penny on a pavement, lucky like two magpies seen together for joy. Lucky, like the twins’ escape had happened by chance.
Not a trace of Bevan or Rita was found. The twins were discovered by police and the fire brigade, sitting on the roadside at the end of Iona Crescent, holding each other. Streaked with soot, hands bloodied, but otherwise unharmed. Seventeen, the pair of them, wide-eyed and gaunt for months. They’d never be the same again, said the papers. It was a miracle, whispered the neighbors. Those lucky, lucky kids.
All they told the journalists was that they ran for their lives. They would cast each other looks, Rossa and Mae, as they said just about nothing at all under rapid-fire questioning. Shock was the disguise they wore, and it protected them from having to say much at all.
The only detail real Mae ever gave to the tall, coal-suited reporters as they grilled her was that she hoped Bobby the cat had managed to make it out into the mountains. They always liked that bit. Their eyes would come over sad; they would say she was so brave.
The neighbors on Iona had been far more forthcoming. Devastated, all: Rita Frost was such a sweet old lady. And young Bevan, tabloids were splashed with photographs of her, school headshots, the occasional clumsy selfie. A gorgeous, bright girl struck down before her life had really begun. Her former boyfriend, Gus, gave an impassioned missive to the national broadsheet about the strength of her character, her beauty. There never would be anyone quite like Bevan Mulholland again, he’d said.
Mae had agreed with him, when she’d read it. There wouldn’t be anyone like her again.
While the papers flooded with tributes, it seemed to Mae that nobody remembered that Bevan and Rita had kept themselves to themselves. That Bevan had few friends, if any—that she was a quiet girl with something hard in her eyes. That Rita had been little short of shunned by the parish for operating as a psychic medium from her living room.
No use in remembering the harder things, the stranger things. Rita was kind and Bevan was beautiful, and Audrey—well, what would anybody at all really know about Audrey? Audrey had been gone for years.
Rita was kind. Bevan was beautiful—this is what remained. This, and the smell. They talked about it for years, told stories of how the sky above Dorasbeg had looked tornado-dark; a disaster in the air. Great billows of it carried on the wind down over the village and the motorway: smoke, sweet and dark.
About the Author:
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.