Wednesday Review- Small Spaces

Small Spaces
by Katherine Arden
(G.P. Putnam & Sons for Young Readers, 2018)

At a Glance


Middle grade horror mystery

Age Range:


Plot Summary:

“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.

After the bus mysteriously breaks down on a school trip, Ollie and two of her classmates set off to solve the mystery of the creepy journal, but they must remember to heed the warning: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” (source)


  • Deliciously creepy
  • Strong character development
  • Beautiful cover
  • excellent plot

Full Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Small Spaces. The beautiful cover is what initially caught my eye, and I was pleased to find out how excellent this book was. It can be so hard to get just the right amount of creepiness for a middle grade audience–a group that can simultaneously like a good scare, but yet easily have nightmares about the monsters under the bed.

Katherine Arden seems to understand this tightrope walk. Scarecrows in general are pretty spooky, but she breathes new life into them. Her vivid language brings each scene into focus. Arden also knows exactly when to dial back the spook-factor with a bit of humor, which leads to a balanced read.

In many horror books, it can feel like character development falls by the wayside the reader is left with cardboard cutout protagonists. That was not the case in Small Spaces. The book has a ton of heart and Ollie truly feels like a well rounded character that kids will easily sympathize with.

And the story was strong from beginning on end with lots of suspense. It moves at a good clip and I did not get bored at any point. Arden also sticks the landing, which can be difficult to do.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a fast paced spine-tingling tale with a lot of heart, definitely check this book out.

One thought on “Wednesday Review- Small Spaces

  1. I absolutely agree about character development in horror, it’s important to have characters you care about or who are at least well-developed but so many writers only seem to care about the kills and the gore. I haven’t read anything by this author, but my mom loved ‘The Bear and the Nightingale.’ She seems like an author worth checking out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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