Small Spaces

Small Spaces

Book - 2018
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"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."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780525515029
Call Number: j ARDEN 2018
Characteristics: 218 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Things were already pretty spooky for Ollie after she rescued an antique book from a strange woman trying to destroy it, but when the school field trip bus the next day stalls in a fog-shrouded field full of creepy scarecrows, it's clear something otherworldly is going on.

From the critics

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Oct 03, 2020

A really good story for middle graders with just the right amount of creepy to make a great October read.

Sep 11, 2020

A thriller for the young and old. WARNING: You will never look at scarecrows the same way again!

Jul 28, 2020

Even though it's about middle school children, adults would appreciate this book!!! Excellent

What a deliciously creepy, atmospheric little gem of a novel. This one is going to stick with me forever, and I'm so glad it will.

Olivia "Ollie" Adler is 11. She's great at math and loves reading novels. When she happens across a woman in the woods one October day after school, she's hesitant to approach her - until she sees that the woman is about to throw a book into the river. Ollie can't allow that, so she takes it, and what follows is a series of the creepiest things I've ever read in a middle grade novel. There are scarecrows that come to life at night, ghosts with skin melting from their faces, grotesque bus drivers with red red mouths, and messages scrawled on trees when backs are turned. The atmosphere is tense, horrifying, and generally terrifying for about 50% of the book.

Which means that I absolutely adored every second of it.

What this book gets so utterly right is atmosphere. From the very first page, I felt like I was stepping into the little town of Evansburg on a regular October day. I could smell the smoke and hot apple cider. I could feel the leaves under my feet. I could picture so clearly the streets that Ollie rides her bike down, the Egg (the house she lives in), the bus that she gets crammed onto with the rest of the sixth grade for a regular, everyday field trip to the farm. Everything is so wonderfully crafted that it felt completely real and 100% engrossing.

Another aspect that I really loved is the intricacy of the plot. I won't spoil anything, but on top of the basic details of the haunting and the lore of the smiling man, there is a subplot about grief that lends the whole book a certain heartfelt aspect that I think some middle grade just doesn't even attempt. I felt so much for Ollie. She's absolutely brilliant, and brave, and whip-smart, and she's dealing with one of the hardest things in the world for anyone to go through, let alone an 11-year-old. How that translates into the story is magical and moving.

This book has everything a Halloween-loving black soul like me could ever want, and it's well-written on top of it all.

JCLChrisK May 04, 2020

Perfectly creepy and chilling, with a well developed, strong young heroine and excellently paced suspense. Belongs on every list of scary books for middle grade readers.

Apr 24, 2020

I so loved Arden's Winter Night trilogy that I was curious to read her entry into the middle grade/tween arena. If your kid scares easily this may not be the title for them. Then again, the story really is about the friendships that the characters make while going through frightening events together. They learn about themselves and how to draw on their and each others strengths. As an adult I still really enjoyed this read and look forward to reading the next in the series.

Mar 03, 2020

Kind of spooky, a little fantasy, plus kids learning to get along

PimaLib_ChristineR Oct 21, 2019

Probably the first middle school I've read since... middle school? I picked this up because I love the Winternight Trilogy (which is for adults). I was impressed with with Arden's abilities once again.

She has definitely adjusted her style for a younger audience, but this is still a spooky book! I don't usually read horror but I enjoyed this. In part it was a win because if you had told me the book was about scarecrows, I would have told you the book would be more silly than scary, but Arden gave us a physically manifested boogie man (as opposed to an unknown thing going bump in the night) that scared my pants off. And the bus driver!!! Holy moly! This is the perfect time of year to snuggle down with a good scary book, so I'll be checking out the next in this series.

Aug 22, 2019

A great quick paced scary book for upper elementary to middle school readers. Perfect for fans of Mary Downing Hahn!

satx_bookshark Jun 26, 2019

A creepy and unsettling middle-grade horror book that I loved. It wasn't gory, but I felt edgy and anxious reading it. But in a good way; in the way that scary books are supposed to scare you - not scar you. If you like/love Coraline by Neil Gaiman, then I think you should definitely pick up this book.

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satx_bookshark Jun 26, 2019

satx_bookshark thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

OPL_KrisC Jun 13, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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