Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

36959639Small Spaces
by Katherine Arden
Expected Publication: September 25, 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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.

My Thoughts

“Wherever you go in this big, gorgeous, hideous world, there is a ghost story waiting for you.” 

This was my first middle grade book and it was so good ya’ll! Katherine Arden did a great job one with this one. It was easily spooky and grabbed my attention. 

Our story starts with our main character Ollie stopping a woman from throwing a book in the water. She warns her to stick to the small spaces but Ollie isn’t sure what she’s talking about. She starts to read this book only to find out that things in the book may be truer than she realizes. 

Ollie was grieving over losing her mother. She engrossed herself in books and dropped out of her school activities. Along the way, she starts to work her way through the grief and actually learn to let people again. I really did enjoy the friendship that formed between Ollie, Brian, and Coco.

The best part about this book was the atmosphere! It just felt like autumn and it did have that spooky vibe.giphy

“When the mist rises, it said, and the smiling man comes walking, you must avoid large places at night.” 

This was pretty darn spooky book even though it’s middle grade. It could just be that I’m a scaredy cat, but I found myself reading with my bedside lamp on! There were twists that I didn’t see coming, especially towards the end! 

This book was a fun read that I recommend everyone read! It will definitely give you those fall vibes. Grab a PSL and enjoy! 

** ARC provided by PeguinTeen for an honest review. Quotes were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

About the Author

Image result for katherine arden author photo

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to guiding horse trips. Currently, she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.

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