Title: Small Spaces
Author: Katherine Arden
Series: Small spaces #1
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with "the smiling man," a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to small."
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.
If you are looking for the perfect read for the spooky season look no further. Small spaces is just filled with that creeping cold, goosebumps raising feeling we all crave this time of year. We really get a lot in this little adventure, from friendships forming, accepting grief and facing fears. It is just filled with immersive descriptions that are both beautiful and creepy. There is just something so lovely about the description of the cold sweeping in over the town as autumn moved to winter. Again this is a middle grade with descriptions of food are just mouth watering.
I really loved the strength of the characters too. Ollie was a brilliant main character, with her internal struggles and trying to cope with her own feelings I really liked the internal dialogue we got from her. It felt very age appropriate. Coco while on the surface was a little annoying she really held her own and I am looking forward to reading more from her in the next book. The only character I felt we really didn’t get a lot of depth with was Brian, but I loved the compassion he showed.
My only disappointment was the ending. After all the creepy build up it just kinda of ended in a very quiet and understated manor and that was a little anticlimactic for me. Overall this was a really enjoyable read perfect for the spooky season. I am looking forward to continuing with the series.