This middle-grade horror novel (224 pages) was published in September of 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. The book takes you to Halloween in Smoke Hollow. David read Small Spaces and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.
This engrossing suburban horror story was written for middle-grade readers but has enough bite and emotional resonance to entertain adults, too. It’s the bookish equivalent of an imaginary film written by Steven King and directed by Steven Spielberg.
The story begins on Halloween in the suburbs. Homes are decorated, jack-o-lanterns are lit, everyone’s ready for doorbell ringing and candy distribution. And that’s when we meet Ollie. She’s 11 years old, she loves to read, and she’s had a very bad day. On the way to her secret reading spot by the river, she spies a mysterious woman, crying, and about to throw a book into the water. Book-loving Ollie cannot abide by this action. She grabs the book and runs away.
As she begins to read the chilling story, she’s drawn into a hair-raising tale about two brothers, a young-love triangle, and a sinister entity — and all of these people may be real.
This tale features, in no particular order, fantastic and fantastical trappings of good horror, including a specter known as ‘the smiling man,’ a farm called Smoke Hollow, potentially sinister graves, ominous advice from untrustworthy adults, a broken (significant) wristwatch, a field of observant scarecrows, and much more.
Ollie is a heroine we can root for, and the more unpopular she is among her peers, the more you will fall in love with her. Suspenseful, with plenty of action and atmosphere that transports you directly into the spooky corn maze, this is a perfect book to celebrate the spirit (and ghostly spirits) of Halloween.
When the mist rises, and the smiling man comes walking, you must avoid large places at night. Keep to small. — Katherine Arden
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