Small Spaces

If you’re like me and believe every single year that August will “go on and on and onnnnnnn,” to quote Paul Bunyan as played by Oliver Platt (LOVE him), then I’ve got a book for you. This spooky delight by Katherine Arden will bring the chill of autumn right to your door, where it’ll sneak in and tap you on the shoulder with ghostly fingers. It is a fun, fun read. In the wake of her mother’s death, Ollie frequently escapes into books. However, the one she snatches from the grasp of a distraught woman before she can toss it in a river (Ollie is horrified that anyone would treat a book that way – good girl!) will prove to be anything but a welcome distraction. The book is an accounting of a family’s losses, and a deal made with the Smiling Man that while intended to heal broken hearts, only makes a tragic circumstance even more so. The terrifying legacy of the Webster family will envelop Ollie, much like the thick fog that roils around and swallows her stalled school bus after a class field trip to the Webster farm. Arden’s settings are deliciously eerie and the bad guys VERY creepy. The book is more than an entertaining indulgence in scary fiction, however; appealing characters and thoughtful layers of plot add depth. Arden weaves grief and bullying, compassion and respect into her story, but they never overwhelm the primary purpose of it, which is to scare the pants off her readers. So run to Hobby Lobby, grab a spiced pumpkin candle and a few artificial autumn leaves to scatter around it, and settle in for a goose-bumpy, spine-tingling read that will help tide you over until Halloween.

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