Happy Sunday book friends! Last week I started and finished Small Favors with hardly any sleep in between. I don’t know what it is, but I could not stop reading. I had the same thing with this author’s other book, House of Salt and Sorrows. Obviously this is very positive!
Small Favors was one of my most anticipated releases of this year and I seriously enjoyed it. It kind of gave me “The Village” vibes (not that I’ve even seen that movie), and it was so atmospheric. There are definitely some content warnings for this book though, so read those if you want, and then read on for my thoughts!
By Erin A. CraigMy Rating: ★★★★☆
Published 27 July 2021 by Delacorte Press
Horror | Young Adult | 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..
What I Liked
I briefly mentioned it before, but I loved the writing. I could totally envisage the village Ellerie lives in, her surroundings, and that creepy forest. Basically you have to envisage one of those old timey villages from the ~I think~ early 1900s Western United States. Religion actually plays a significant part in this book, as most (if not all) of the characters and villagers are heavily Christian. To me, this added an extra dimension to the entire village’s way of life, even though most of the villagers remain unknown side characters.
Speaking of characters though, I really liked the MC Ellerie. I felt maybe her arc could’ve been explored a bit better, because there is not a lot of character development in my opinion. Though I did like that she was quite rational, and thought her actions through (I hate irrationality for the sake of plot). Ellerie is the only POV we get, which in this book I did not mind at all. There are yet again many characters I absolutely loathed. Though in this case I was supposed to, so good writing there again.
The plot is really quite simple: scary creatures live in woods and mayhem ensues. But, like I said, the writing is so atmospheric, it’s like you’re reading a movie. I got all the creepy vibes from this story. Plus, I loved how all the conflicts in this book just escalate and escalate until the finale. The ending definitely wasn’t what I expected, but in hindsight I also don’t see how it could’ve gone any other way (cryptic, I know). I think it’s also a great critique of what happens when people are too invested in their beliefs. In the end, the closed-mindedness of some of the characters was a big contributor to all the conflicts in the book. Basically belief is okay, but don’t be a fanatic. That’s the message I got, at least.
What I Liked Less
So even though the ending was satisfying for the most part, I felt like I was left hanging a bit regarding one of the conflicts in the story. And considering that this is a standalone, I’ll also never have an answer. I also did not entirely care for the love interest. He was okay?? But to be honest he fell a little flat for me. I think he could’ve used some more character development, too.