White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Overview

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.

Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is needed.

Marigold

Review

I very much enjoyed this book. I’ve read a few reviews, and many people gave low ratings saying that they didn’t enjoy it as much or didn’t meet their expectations as a suspense/thriller. I do not feel the same. Jackson always does a great job of pulling me in. I was reading in a quiet house at night as was a little nervous about moving out of bed. While it’s not extremely scary or suspenseful, I was connected to the characters and invested in the storyline. I enjoyed how it touched on many different topics that many people face daily. The main character, Marigold, deals with substance abuse and anxiety. Her younger brother is still trying to accept the fact that their parents have divorced. Her stepsister doesn’t seem to be on board with the new marriage and has trouble fitting in with the new family dynamic. Members of the community are struggling with a harsh criminal justice system that aims to lock them up and get them out of the way to gentrify and revitalize the neighborhood.

Outside of touching on these critical topics, I feel that the details and storyline were great. Marigold is struggling with hearing things around the house, doors openings, seeing shadows, and can’t figure out if it’s all in her head or if these things are happening. As usual, Tiffany Jackson throws a curveball towards the end, and I was very impressed. I feel this was a good break from some of the more serious titles I have been reading, and picking this up brought back the excitement I had been missing.

Most reviews I read gave around three stars. I feel entirely different about it. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m new to suspense/horror/thriller books, but I can say that I give it a good 5. I didn’t enjoy the open ending, but that’s what I expect from a Tiffany D. Jackson book and I feel that the writing and overall storyline make up for that, so I don’t take off points for it.

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