*I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. I also purchased the yellow B&N edition for myself. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publisher/Imprint: Delacorte Press
Edition: Hardcover, 466 Pages
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
‘You can try to secret away all sorts of sins in the dead of night, but you can’t hide a guilty conscience.’
-Erin A. Craig, Small Favors
Hello, everyone! I hope September is off to a good start for you! Have you finished any books yet this month? I finished reading Small Favors at the end of August, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you all.
- This was another chilling, atmospheric novel from Erin A. Craig! I was thrilled to return to her writing after several years of waiting for another book from her!
- This book has a small-town, slow, creeping horror story with fairy tale vibes that I loved! (And when I say “fairy tale” vibes in this instance, I mean the more traditional, darker vibes reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm.)
- People start seeing silver-eyed creatures, and stranger things happen around town!
- The author does a wonderful job creating the small mountain valley town of Amity Falls and making it feel real – and claustrophobic by the end. The tension that builds is truly palpable. Skillful development of tension is definitely an element I look for in a good book.
- The woods surrounding the town are dark and foreboding, and I love a good creepy forest.
- The pace is more of a slow burn, so it did take me a while to finish reading the book. Sometimes, it dragged a tiny bit, but then another creepy event would occur and pull me through.
- This book is largely character-driven, and I think the author does a great job showing the different relationships and tensions among a large cast of characters.
Some things ought never to be said. Some words were too cruel to forgive.
-Erin A. Craig, Small Favors
Characters & Romance
Speaking of characters, here is a brief overview of some of the main people involved:
- Ellerie Downing is the daughter of a bee keeper. When strange things start happening in town, she does all she can to protect her family and the hive. I really admired her devotion to her family and the town even as the community was falling apart.
- Sam is Ellerie’s twin. He’s a bit hard to get along with. At times, I got really fed up with him and didn’t understand why he was such a jerk to his own family! I won’t get into much detail, but I think it’s definitely a good sign when an author can create characters that make readers feels strongly.
- Merry and Sadie are Ellerie and Sam’s younger sisters.
- Gideon and Sarah Downing are their parents, and I admired the small-town goodness and kindness that they embodied. They always advocated doing what was best for the community as a whole.
- Whitaker Price is a mysterious trapper who shows up one day on the edge of the Downing property. He makes quite a swoon-worthy love interest for Ellerie. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship develop.
- There are many other townsfolk as well. Over the course of the story, it is quite shocking to see how their various relationships fall apart and the lengths that people are willing to go to during times of desperation.
- Some of Ellerie’s family members become more absent in later portions of the book, and there were times when I wished they played a larger role in the story. But this is only a minor quibble of mine.
‘There’s a power in names, don’t you think? Once your name is given away, you can’t help but be pulled along by those who have it.’
-Erin A. Craig, Small Favors
The ending of this story is a bit open-ended, and we don’t get all the answers we may have wished for. But the way it ends feels fitting for a fairy tale – in the more traditional sense. (Do not expect a happy Disney ending.)
I’ve also heard that this story is inspired by Rumpelstiltskin because of the favors that people trade for with the mysterious creatures. But I’d say it is only a very loose retelling. Erin makes the story unique in her own way.
The favors involved are not really mentioned until later in the book, and I wish they would’ve played a more obvious role earlier on. But overall, I really enjoyed this atmospheric tale. This is definitely a book I recommend taking your time with so that you can absorb all the tiny details the author has woven into the story and be able to appreciate the slow burn. If you are looking for another spooky read, I also highly recommend House of Salt and Sorrows, which was Erin’s debut novel – a haunting retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Happy reading 🙂
*Content Warnings: Horror-type violence and gore (including significant injuries due to a fire).*
Copyright © 2021 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)