Friday 22 March 2024

Small Spaces

Finished March 11
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

I've enjoyed this author's adult novels and thought I would try one of her children's novels. Small Spaces is the first book in a series of novels featuring paranormal elements in our world. The story is centered on 11 year old Ollie, who is still grieving the loss of her mother. She loves books and wandering in the woods near her Vermont home. One day, when she's going to her secret forest reading spot, she finds someone already there, a woman who seems distraught and who is about to throw a book into the river. Ollie grabs the book from her hands and takes off. When she examines the book later, she finds it is a sort of diary told by a woman whose husband made an agreement with "the smiling man" to find his brother again. 
A few days later, when Ollie's class goes on a field trip to a nearby farm, she finds several things unsettling, from the substitute bus driver, to the presence of the woman she'd seen earlier. There are also numerous scarecrows on the farm who give off an eerie vibe to Ollie. 
When their bus back to school breaks down and leaves them on the side of a deserted road near the forest, Ollie and two other students who follow her, try to make their way to safety, using the words that Ollie found in the book about keeping to small spaces, and the guidance that she gets from her mother through a device.
This is a creepy story with suspenseful and tense moments. Ollie is a girl who cares about others, and also one who is able to find calmness in a crisis. I read the book in one sitting, eager to know what happened. 
The pace is fast and the main characters of Ollie, Brian, and Coco have some depth to them. I'm interested in seeing how this series continues. 

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