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Small Spaces    by Katherine Arden order for
Small Spaces
by Katherine Arden
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2019 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

It's autumn in the small town of Evansburg, Vermont. Olivia Adler (called Ollie by everyone except her mother) and her dad live a house known as the Egg. Painted bright Easter colors, both inside and out, the Egg is filled with memories of her mother who died recently.

Tired of everyone's sympathy faces, eleven-year-old Ollie drops out of the chess club, quits the soft ball team and chooses to sit alone among classmates she's known since kindergarten. She retreats into books, long solitary bicycle rides along Lethe Creek and even cold swims at the swimming hole.

When she discovers a strange woman at the swimming hole about to drown a book, she offers to take it. When the woman refuses, Ollie surprises herself by snatching it from her, grabbing up her bike and rushing home. She can't believe she stole a book, but she likes books. No need to destroy a book. Someone will want it.

The book, called Small Spaces, is a ghost story copyrighted in 1895. It begins with a letter from a mother to her daughter. Ollie doesn't know when she begins to read how very real the story is about to become to her and her classmates.

A field trip to a local farm ends with a disabled school bus and becomes a nightmare for those inside when dusk falls. Ollie and two mismatched new friends are the only ones to escape and the only ones who might have a chance of surviving.

Creepy and suspenseful, this ghoulish tale is more than just a ghost story. Ollie, struggling with the loss of her mother, begins to trust again. She's able to make decisions based on beliefs her parents have taught her, and accept help from the most unlikely sources.

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