White Smoke is NYT Bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson’s first horror/thriller novel, and it is quite the triumph! Spooky, chilling, and gripping, this unique take on haunted houses will keep you up at night, and stun you with its gut-wrenching message.
The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!
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.
“My mission is fireproof and it feels good.”–Marigold
I love reading creepy, scary stories all year round, which made adding this book to my TBR list an absolute no-brainer. Bring on the haunted house vibes, be they shadows under doorways, whispers in the walls, or lights turning on and off with a mind of their own.
This book had all that and more. After all, not only is Marigold dealing with a hostile presence in her new home, she’s also got ghosts of her own to quell, and a family dynamic as complicated as the secrets she uncovers about her new hometown.
What I loved about this book is how it’s so much more than a ghost story. Jackson’s approach to heavy topics like mental health, drug abuse, and trauma is sympathetic, fearless, and deeply human. Depictions of Mari’s paranoia and irrational fears resonated with my own, making this an important and immersive read.
Equally compelling and chilling as all the bumps in the night and trauma Mari endures is Jackson’s exploration and depiction of systemic failings, racism, and the deep-rooted secrets that keep the scariest ghosts in America alive and thriving.
If you’re like me, and stories about haunted houses and the ongoing dangers of racism in America keep you up at night, maaaaaybe don’t read this book right before bed. But I highly recommend that you do read and ponder its gutting, riveting depths as soon as possible.
Offering a unique examination of systemic failings and the monsters we make, White Smoke is an imperative addition to YA literature, and a must-read for horror/thriller fans.
I, for one, know the secrets of Cedarville are going to stay with me for a very long time.
You can keep up with Tiffany D. Jackson here:
What should you read next?
After checking out Grown, also by Tiffany D. Jackson, I think fans of important, thrilling speculative fiction should grab The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris, and Dread Nation by Justina Ireland.