I’m a big fan of historical fantasy books, so when I saw Erin was writing one, I knew it was going to be good! If you haven’t read her first book, House of Salt and Sorrows, you should definitely check it out! It’s a twelve dancing princesses retelling and very, very creepy!
I was excited for another fantasy horror and this book did not disappoint. Thank you to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy for review!
I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler free.
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published: July 27, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
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.
One thing about historical fiction fantasy is that usually, the year/era isn’t always clear. This book is no exception. While it’s clear it’s some time in the 1800’s, it’s unclear when. The western expansion has already started and these people have settled somewhere in the midwest. Our story takes place in a small, secluded town, away from the rest of the cities and towns in the area. It’s clear that there were rumors of monsters and beasts in the woods when the original families were settling the land, but they haven’t been seen in a long while.
I have to say, Ellerie was a great protagonist. She’s inquisitive and smart, but is also willing to listen and learn from others. Her twin brother, Sam, is kind of the opposite. Stubborn and very private, he cares more about his interests than others. And then we have her two younger sisters, Merry and Sadie, and their parents. Weird stuff starts to happen around town though. Items go missing, things get destroyed, and tensions start to run high between neighbors and townspeople.
The story progression was so perfect. Small things turned to medium things turned to big things. The tension and agitation between neighbors rises until all hell breaks loose. And I loved seeing how the characters change over time too. How everyone in town is so nice and friendly, until things start going downhill, and then it’s every man for himself.
And poor Ellerie, who tries to hold everyone together, has to navigate new, treacherous waters. Especially during the winter months when food is scarce and everyone is tired of the same thing. The one thing keeping Ellerie together is the strange boy, Whitaker, a trapper who showed up in town one day and has quickly caught her eye. I love the small moments and interactions that the two of them have, unable to stay away from each other, even during the worst of times.
I really, really liked how this book was set up and how we get to the ending – which is really intense. By the end though, I had a few questions that went unanswered. Maybe it was to add to the overall mystery, but I really wanted to know what happened and I didn’t get any closure. I like when some things are left a mystery or left unsaid – but generally, when it comes to a character’s well being or a plot point, I like to have some idea of what happened, and I didn’t get that with this book. Part of me wanted an epilogue so we could get an idea of what happened after these events, but alas, there wasn’t.
Overall, this book was a solid 4 stars for me. It was a great mystery, filled with suspense, and I loved the historical fantasy vibes that went along with it. This book definitely creeped me out more than once and left me a little scared to read it after dark. I definitely recommend it to anyone who love House of Salt and Sorrows or who likes creepy, fantastical, mysteries!
If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out House of Salt and Sorrows! Or, check out Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall, my review linked here.