When I found out that Katherine Arden, author of one of my favorite adult fantasy series - The Bear and the Nightingale - was writing a young reader series I was both elated and a little nervous. Would the writer who brought Medieval Russia and her folklore to such stunning life be able to translate her gifts to the modern Midwest for a story of kids versus evil scarecrows? My friends, she was. Small Spaces is deliciously creepy, and Ollie, Coco, and Brian are the perfect, messed up heroes to save the day and their fellow students on a field trip that has gone very, very wrong.— From Lynda’s Picks
New York Times 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. Now in paperback.
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who 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.
Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: "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 begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. 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.
About the Author
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.
Praise for Small Spaces:
★ ★ ★ Three Starred Reviews
A Kirkus Best Book of 2018 – Middle-Grade
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018 – Middle-Grade
A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2018
An Amazon Best Book – October 2018
A CCBC Choices List Pick – 2019
A Great Texas Mosquito Reading List Pick – 2019-2020
A Maine Student Book Award Nominee – 2019-2020
A Sunshine State Young Readers Award Nominee – 2019-2020
A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee – 2019-2020
★ “Atmospheric horror at its best. Chillingly tender.”—Kirkus, starred review
★ “With a tantalizing pace and palpable suspense, all nicely grounded in realistic emotions, this well-wrought spine-tingler is destined to be a hit (just makes sure the lights stay on).”—Booklist, starred review
★ “Riveting…The story moves at a good pace with just enough clues to keep the reader intrigued and guessing.”—School Library Connection, starred review
“Is it a mystery? A fairy tale? A horror thriller? As the suspense gripped me, I just wanted to know one thing—WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Terrifying and fun.”—R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
“The perfect book to be read by firelight during a chilly autumn evening—though you might find yourself inching closer to the light as the story nears its terrifying conclusion. Katherine Arden is a gifted storyteller with a wicked imagination!”—J. A. White, author of The Thickety series and Nightbooks
“This book scared the snot out of me. Fast-paced and spine-tinglingly delightful. I defy you to read the first two chapters without staying up the rest of the night to finish. You’ve been warned!”—Jonathan Auxier New York Times bestselling author of The Night Gardener
“This supernatural thriller [is] a page-turner, but it’s Ollie’s journey through grief and into friendship that makes it memorable.” –The Horn Book Magazine
“A winning combination of thrills, chills, humor, and heart. Hand to fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and readers who enjoy the works of Mary Downing Hahn and Jonathan Stroud.” –The School Library Journal
“Arden…shrouds her Halloween-time story in autumnal mists, introducing a…cast of ominous figures, from ghosts to shapeshifters and scarecrow minions. Ollie is a relatable heroine who finds strength through trusting in friendship, while her ghostly adventures lead her to learn an important truth: sometimes, the best way to honor the memory of a loved one is by moving forward, bravely, and with love.”—Publishers Weekly
” The novel’s menacing fantasy world of centuries-old ghosts and children being turned into scarecrows is provocative enough, but explicit references to Narnia, Wonderland, and Cerberus of Hades make for a smart and moving account of how stories may transport but grief and loss still take a lot from us.” —BCCB
“In her first book for young readers, the author of adult best-seller “The Bear and the Nightingale” offers a sublimely creepy tale with middle-school drama, spooky fairytale references, a heart-stopping finale – and a poignant tale of mother and daughter love at its heart.” —The Buffalo News