By Cynthia Bujnicki
A spellbinding ghost story that follows Ollie as she enters a farm and exits in a world in between life and death filled with scarecrows and the “Smiling Man”.
What a delightfully creepy novel. Small Spaces is one of those novels that is perfect for those dark and stormy nights, or even just at night in general. Arden did a fantastic job with this piece. She created an unputdownable novel about a young girl sucked into another world outside our own, a world between life and death set in a cornfield with creepy scarecrows that come to life as the sun sets. It is wonderful. Arden’s language and tone create a beautiful setting, beginning with nothing spectacular but undoubtedly eerie, as Ollie heads home after school one day. It seems like nothing remarkable, but Arden weaves in a remarkable eerie tone to unleash unease onto the reader.
From the opening pages, something is unsettling about everything happening around Ollie. She rescues a book from someone who seems deranged and heads home, discovering something eerie and mesmerizing about the novel she is reading. Moreover, when she goes on a school field trip, she discovers something scarier. Her watch is guiding her, helping her along, as her school bus breaks down, fog rolls in, and silence settles around her. For Ollie and her two friends, it is a journey to not only save themselves but to unravel the mystery and save their class as well.
It is incredibly perfect how the story moves, maintaining that spooky element, there is also something mature in the storytelling. Ollie lost her mother in a tragic accident sometime before the novel begins. She is still reeling, trying to move on with her life, but she is not going about it healthily. Ollie isolates herself and lingers on the past, often lingering on the event through hints given to the reader by descriptions tone. However, through the watch and through the events that follow, Ollie learns to make peace with her mothers’ death and learns that her mother is always with her, allowing her to open up again in school and move on.
Small Space is a fantastic novel that is incredibly spooky that deals with mature themes making for an incredible read. (★★★★★)