- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Sept. 25 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780525515029
- ISBN-13: 978-0525515029
- ASIN: 052551502X
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.2 x 21.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 336 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Small Spaces Hardcover – Sep 25 2018
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Praise for Small Spaces:
★“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
“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
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.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Small Spaces is Katherine Arden’s debut middle grade novel and I loved it so very much friends. Many of you know that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books of all-time, and even though these stories are nothing like one another, the beautiful writing, amazing characters, and important themes shine through. I went into this expecting a fun and spooky read (which it was), but what I also got was such a beautiful love letter to grief, depression, and trying to live in a world that has taken away someone who you feel you cannot live without.
In a small town in Vermont, our main character is riding her bike home from school one fall afternoon, when she notices a woman attempting to throw an old book in the water. Ollie, being the book lover that she is, feels obliged to stop and see what’s going on.
➽ Olivia Adler - But she mostly goes by Ollie. A twelve-year-old, sixth grader, who loves to read and is trying to live her life while grieving a terrible loss. And the only way she truly knows how to cope is the escapism of books. (Also, there is a brief mention of her mom having brown skin, but I am not 100% sure of Ollie’s race.)
➽ Coco Zintner - The tiniest child in Ollie’s class. She has a somewhat famous mother and has recently moved to the school. But her innocence and eccentricities constantly make her a target for bullying.
➽ Brian Battersby - Jamaican and your typical middle school jock, who Ollie has known her entire life. And Ollie learns very quickly that you should not stereotype people, because they might surprise you.
And their paths truly cross unexpectedly once Olivia begins to read the book that was almost abandoned. She learns of a farm, and a girl, and two brothers, and a missing persons case that was never solved. And now Ollie and her friends are going on a field trip to a farm that is very reminiscent of the story she has been reading about.
And yes, friends, this is a spooky book. I mean, it’s nothing too scary or too much, but Katherine Arden for sure paints an eerie atmosphere and some extremely creepy monster like characters. And I truly think this will make the perfect Halloween read this year, for so many ages, but this book was also so much more than that.
This is a book about healing and friendship and learning to let go while simultaneously never letting go. This book is about escapism through books and how books carry some of the most powerful healing magic imaginable. And this is a book about healing at your own pace and in your own time.
“Maybe, she kept thinking, when she came back from one of those other worlds, when she woke up from book dreaming, she would come back to a world where […] wasn’t dead.”
Ollie is really dealing with some very serious depression and grief throughout this book. Like how we give up things that make us happy, just because those things remind you of the person who made you happiest. How sometimes the world feels too heavy, too loud, too empty, all because it’s missing someone who was your entire world. Yet, this is also a love letter to how the ones we lose will never truly be lost; they will always remain with us. Always.
Overall, I loved this book more than words. I wasn’t expecting it to make me feel everything that it did, and when I closed the book it truly felt like a cathartic experience. I recommend this book to any and every person, but especially during the autumnal season. I read this in a single sitting, I never once wanted to put it down, and I fell so deeply in love with it.
Such is the wisdom of Katherine Arden’s eerie middle grade novel Small Spaces; she doesn’t know it, but she has written the words that will one day go on my tombstone. Perhaps I’ll add a small engraving of a scarecrow to give ghost hunters an extra fright…
But I digress. Small Spaces is the story of Ollie Adler, a sixth grade math whiz and fierce feminist who has withdrawn from her friends and dropped all school activities in the wake of her mother’s death. Her only solace is in books, so when she finds a woman trying to throw a book in the river one day, she steals the book from the woman in order to rescue it. When Ollie reads it, she finds that the book is a diary of horrific events that happened in the very place where her class will soon be taking a field trip…and that history may be about to repeat itself.
This is one of the creepiest books I’ve read this year. Don’t scoff just yet — I know I review a lot of cute board books on this site, which aren’t really all that terrifying, but I also review books for adult horror fans on my other blog, so when I say that this book scared me more than almost anything I’ve read all year, you know it’s legitimately creepy. There’s a sense of dread that seeps slowly throughout the book, and once we get to the action (hinted at by that glorious Halloween-y cover), Arden demonstrates that she understands exactly how frightening scarecrows truly are. They’re always staring at you. They seem to move as soon as you turn your back on them. I’ve been convinced for my entire life that one of these days I’d catch a scarecrow moving before I’d even had a chance to turn away, and Arden has finally confirmed my suspicions.
But enough of my nightmares! In addition to Ollie’s feminism, I appreciated Arden’s characterization of Ollie’s classmate Coco. She’s a very pretty, feminine young girl who cries quite often, but as Ollie discovers: “Coco didn’t cry because she was weak. Coco cried because she felt things.” Differentiating feeling from weakness — and differentiating femininity from weakness — is an important distinction to make, particularly in a middle grade book. The earlier you can teach kids this vital lesson, the better.
Arden deliberately breaks down racial and gender stereotypes in this book, as Ollie’s classmate Brian, who is Black and immigrated from Jamaica at a very young age, is a star hockey player, and Ollie’s dad knits and bakes. Arden does this in a positive, organic manner that supports the already well-drawn characterizations. Ollie’s dad in particular is such a nurturing figure that I can’t imagine him not having a project on the needles or something delicious in the oven. And Ollie’s mom was a bold adventurer, a strong athlete, and a fierce protector. We don’t see much of her interacting with Ollie, but what we do see is heart-wrenching. Arden’s handling of Ollie’s grief is subtle and gentle; she slowly tells us more and more about what happened to Ollie’s mother and how Ollie has dealt with (or denied) the loss.
Despite a slightly rushed ending, Small Spaces is a deliciously suspenseful tale of loss, survival, and friendship. Katherine Arden’s prose is gorgeous, filled with dreamy, lyrical asides. The story alternates between eerie and pulse-pounding; when we can’t see any monsters, dread still rolls in like fog. Whether Ollie is running from scarecrows or denying her own grief, Arden has a message for her: whatever demons you’re trying to avoid, you can’t hide forever.
Again, this turned out to be such a fun read. And with Katherine Arden at the wheel? The best written scarecrow zombie pre-teen book ever. I just love how she creates her people and makes them shine. And she has a way with words that makes each person, each scene, each picture indelible and memorable.
A horror story that combines coming of age, grief, friendship and zombies, Small Spaces focuses on Ollie, an eleven year-old girl. A year ago, Ollie suffered a tragedy that affected her so badly she dropped out of her extracurricular activities, stopped hanging out with friends, and did not enjoy life like she once did. The reader is given clues along the way concerning the tragedy and it is really sad.
Ollie has a math brain and loves to read. She a power chess player and has deadly aim when she throws a rock. She sticks up for other people, even if they aren't her favorite humans. She doesn't fall in love with anyone in the book. And, she refuses to back down when faced with freaky, spooky, ghosty scarecrow zombies.
She's pretty kickass.