cover image Small Spaces

Small Spaces

Katherine Arden. Putnam, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-525-51502-9

Eleven-year-old Ollie lives with her big-hearted baking enthusiast father following the tragic death of her mother, and finds respite from her grief through reading. Her circumstances take a supernatural turn when she encounters a frightening woman attempting to throw a book into the river. When Ollie, drawn to the book, takes it, the woman warns Ollie to “avoid large places at night... keep to small.” In its pages, Ollie reads of a long-ago family whose losses led them to make a dreadful pact with a demonic figure known as “the smiling man.” And on a class trip to a dairy farm, Ollie and two classmates—with whom she forms a reluctant connection—learn that the smiling man is very real. Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale) shrouds her Halloween-time story in autumnal mists, introducing a sometimes-crowded 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. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Sept.) [/em]