Where There’s Smoke

Knopf. Dec. 2023. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593480694.
Gr 9 Up–Eighteen-year-old Calli is an orphan who just lost her father in a fire. Despite living in a close-knit small town, she feels lost and alone. After her father’s funeral, while out walking on what is now her land, she stumbles upon a young girl who is burned and unable to speak. Calli, desperate for purpose and with the voice of her pious father echoing in her ear, decides to take the girl in and help her. But this girl is running from something, and as Calli comes to learn, there are a lot of buried secrets in her small town. Vickers adeptly creates tension in this thriller, breaking up chapters with interludes in poetic verse. Always referring to the past, the verses are vague and mysterious but hint at the hidden, underlying story. Many of these references to the past are never dealt with in the main plot, but instead are left to the imagination. While the narrative wraps up fairly well, readers may still be disappointed by the loose ends. The book’s overall message is a serious one, that not everyone is who they appear to be and that everyone has the potential to be monsters. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced thriller and its many plot twists, even the ones they see coming.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for school libraries.

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