Book Review: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

The creepiest place in the world to be alone would have to be in a forest by a river bank. Even in the middle of the day, sun shining on you, Bambi and Thumper skipping around I would be genuinely freaked out. Now imagine you biking on the way home along your neighborhood river and you come across this strange ghastly looking woman trying to pitch a book away in the water like itโ€™s baby Moses…Um. That’s some Blair Witch shit if I ever saw it and I want nothing to do with it.

Our heroine Ollie is much braver than me however and does. She saves the book, named Small Spaces, and is immediately engrossed in the weird tale. Immediately that is when things get REAL weird and really creepy.


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.”


Middle school was hell. Can’t think of anything worse and with the loss that Ollie has had, she is amazing and such a lovely, strong character. I loved reading about her and her family. I was hungry to learn more and felt every emotion especially with how she suppressed her feelings. Coco and Brian were adorable and the best sidekicks she could ask for. I love pairings like this and Katherine did a great job conveying the obnoxiousness of middle school kids lmao but also their innate kindness!

My Thoughts and Rating:

Horror is my genre, okay? I love being scared and this creeped me out. It was creative and the utilization of scarecrows and small places was very well done. I legit jumped at several parts because the imagery was very good. And as well as being scary, it was touching.

Many scenes were heartwarming and I did cry. Ollie has been through so much and I do love the underlying message that even when people do leave physically, it doesn’t mean that they are completely gone. But, you can also take that in an entire different creepy way. I totally choose not to. I don’t sleep well enough as it is

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ 5/5

please click on the pic above to add to your next favorite read ๐Ÿ™‚

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

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