Keep to Small Spaces || Small Spaces Review

Initial Thoughts: 

My mind blew up and now I cannot unsee the merged image in my mind of the scarecrows in this book and weeping angels in Doctor Who and I. Am. TERRIFIED.

But this book was fantastic. Yes.


by Katherine Arden
Putnam’s Sons, September 2018
Children’s fantasy, paranormal
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

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.

So I’d read Katherine Arden’s debut Winternight trilogy to its completion before I picked up this book, and just from The Bear and the Nightingale, I knew she did really well when it came to writing atmospheric scenes. I was frightened at some point in a scene in TBatN when it came to nighttime in the Russian wilderness, but holy heck on a stick, Batman, she managed to make most of Small Spaces even more frightening.

I’m kind of a wuss, though, so that may be one of the reasons why this children’s book was extra creepy. But then again, when you put scarecrows, corn fields a la Children of the Corn, smiling men, and UTTER DARKNESS in one story, how could you NOT be scared?

Small Spaces takes a group of sixth graders on a field trip to a farm in the middle of nowhere. The farm itself has had several stories behind it, many of which have been tragic and dark, and yet this does not seem to deter Ollie’s class teachers from taking the entirety of sixth grade there. Now, not only does Ollie have to endure the trip with her classmates, she’s also got little time to read.

Which may have helped her piece the history of Smoke Hollow together faster than night falling.

But ah well. What’s a little actual experience to help spice things up, right?

The book is not something I would typically read at night. Yes, it’s a children’s book, and I’m well aware it’s a children’s books. BUT STILL. AVOID SMALL SPACES OKAY? DON’T READ THIS IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT.

5 out of 5 cookies!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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