Monsters and Mayhem

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Ellerie Downing is waiting for something to happen. Life in isolated Amity Falls, surrounded by an impenetrable forest, has a predictable sameness. Her days are filled with tending to her family’s beehives, chasing after her sisters, and dreaming of bigger things while her twin, Samuel, is free to roam as he wishes.

Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far. When some townsfolk go missing on a trip to fetch supplies, a heavy unease settles over the Falls.

Strange activities begin to plague the town, and as the seasons change, it’s clear that something is terribly wrong. The creatures are real, and they’re offering to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand, for just a small favor. These seemingly trifling demands, however, hide sinister intentions. Soon Ellerie finds herself in a race against time to stop Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves from going up in flames.

ARC Provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This was a delightfully creepy read with a great heroine, creepy monsters in a dark and dangerous forrest, and an evil that can see into your deepest and darkest desires. Although the pacing is a little slow it does build up to a spectacular ending that will keep you reading until the end.

Ellerie was a delightful young lady to spend time with. She is the sole narrator and she starts off being a bit on the naive side, but by the end she is determined to save her family and her town whatever the cost. Ellerie is the oldest girl in the family with a twin brother and two younger sisters. The family was wonderful, they for the most part cared deeply for each other. Ellerie really has to step up as the head of the family when her mother is injured and her parents leave to get her some better care, and she does an awesome job of it. Sam, her brother, was a troubled young man who didn’t always step up and take ownership of his life. Some of this may have been in part because of what was going on, but deep down I think he did care about his family. The two younger sisters were fun and delightful.

There is a romance between Ellerie and a new young man that is nicely done. It does build up to something by the end although it starts off with a bit of insta-love or like on the part of both of them. But I really liked Whitaker, although there were many times when I wasn’t sure if he should be trusted. Although he has a lot of secrets, when he was with Ellerie you could tell that he really cared about her and wanted to help and protect her and her family.

The setting of a small, isolated western town was perfect for this story. The town is basically on its own, with a larger city a week or so’s ride over the mountains. Everyone knows everyone and for the most part all get along. But as with many small towns there are slights and grudges carried by all in their hearts. It is these grudges and secrets that become the downfall of the town due to what is lurking in the woods. Although the overall pacing is a bit slow, the last part of the book makes up for that with all of the action when the true horror really begins.

You may have seen some reviews, like I have, that refer to this book as a Rumplestiltskin retelling and I can see why they might think that, but truthfully I have got to say nope, I’m not buying it. There is only one small part in the whole story that reminds me of that fairytale which in my book doesn’t make it a retelling. There is more of a mixture of a lot of old folktales and other horror stories that make up this one, but when it comes down to it, it is it’s own unique tale.

If you liked House of Salt and Sorrow I think you will find this book just as good. There is a bit more of a horror story feel to it than there was in the first book, and the ending is a bit gruesome, but overall a delightful story about what lies in the deepest parts of a person’s heart and how the choices we make can determine our lives. I highly recommend that you read this when it comes out at the end of July.

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