Bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic
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.
Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1) by Katherine Arden
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on 25/09/2018
Small Spaces is a book that’s been on my radar for awhile, but that I haven’t had the chance to buy yet. This book recently was a Read Now book on Netgalley and I knew it was the perfect time to give it a go. I’m kind of sad I didn’t wait until Halloween, but maybe I’ll do a reread then. Let’s take a look at what I thought of Small Spaces!
This is my first book by this author and I am upset with myself that I didn’t read something by this author sooner. Small Spaces is the perfect Halloween read, but I enjoyed reading it just as much in the middle of the summer. Even if it made me long for the Halloween season!
“Avoid large spaces. Keep to small.”
Small Spaces focuses on our main character Ollie. A 12 year old girl, who is dealing with losing with her mother and having a hard time coping with her grief. I thought besides the adventure Ollie goes on, this book gave a lot of attention to this aspect of her life. I loved how the author did this, because unfortunately there are many children who lose parents at a young age. Katherine Arden did this in a respectful way that really hit me in all the feels.
“Ollie remembered nearly everything she read; a vital talent for any girl who reads novels in class and doesn’t pay attention.”
My favorite part about Ollie is her love of books and that’s basically what starts this whole story. Ollie saves a book and that’s where the adventure starts. When her class goes on a field trip and later heads back home, the bus gets stranded and that’s when things get weird. Small Spaces is definitely a spooky book and at times I was surprised this is a middle grade.
When things start getting spooky, our main character leaves the bus with Coco (the oddball in the class, who is the victim of a lot of bullying, but stays herself) and Brian (the cool kid, with a side you don’t expect). I don’t want to give away too much, because I think you need to experience this spooky story for yourself. All I can say, is that I’ll never look at scarecrows the same again, haha.
“You might get to know characters in books Ollie thought, but getting to know a human was an entirely different thing.”
What I love about middle grade books is that most of the time it focuses on friendship. I love that Small Spaces is the same. Three classmates who aren’t the obvious trio to be close, form a close connection and help each other through a difficult time.
If you’re looking for a spooky story, definitely pick up Small Spaces. The spooky part is amazing, but the other subjects it deals with really makes this book special. Dead Voices, the sequel, releases next month and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Small Spaces is definitely going to be a favorite middle grade of mine. As I read more of this genre, I’m starting to love it more and more! Have you read any spooky middle grade books I should check out? Let me know in the comments!