The Captain’s Log – small spaces (Katherine Arden)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Ever since I read the bear and the nightingale, I have been in love with this author’s writing.  So while waiting for book 3 of that trilogy, I thought I would give her middle-grade novel a whirl because I don’t put age limits on reading.  And this was a fun one.

This story follows Ollie who finds solace in being alone and reading in order to escape the pain of losing her mother.  Then one cold day she goes to her favorite spot by the creek to find someone has gotten there first!  An older woman is there raving about a book and is preparing to toss it into the water.  But Ollie can’t let a book be destroyed and so she grabs it and runs.  Curious about the book, she begins to read what appears to be a journal and becomes completely engrossed.  But suddenly weird things are happening in her town that seem to mirror that of the book.  Can Ollie solve the mystery before bad things happen to everyone around her?

I absolutely adored Ollie and her schoolmates Coco and Brian!  I loved watching their relationships and beliefs about one another change because they are thrown together in their unusual situation.  I also thought this was a poignant portrayal of loss and depression – both for Ollie and her dad.  Ollie uses books to help her with her grief.  It shows how two people can love each other and yet grown distance because of pain.  I also loved her dad for his baking, paint choices, and silly jokes.

But the book does have its creepy moments with ghosts, getting lost, and an evil being.  Oh and the scarecrows.  I have never been one to think scarecrows were anything less than harmless.  But I may have to rethink that sentiment and look over me shoulder whenever in a corn field.  Eek!

I think this be a delightful book with wonderful themes and lessons.  Don’t just take me word on it (though yer Captain’s word should be enough!).  Check out these other reviews by me crew.  Then go get a copy.  That’s an order.  Arrr!

Amy @ acourtofcrownsandquills – “But aside from the horror plot line, there were so many wonderful themes I appreciated. This story beautifully showcases the importance of friendship and teamwork. It’s about standing up for someone and caring for them in dire times. It’s about facing your fears while also coming to terms with loss and healing emotionally.”

Melanie @ meltotheany – “Small Spaces is Katherine Arden’s debut middle grade novel and I loved it so very much friends. Many of you know that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books of all-time, and even though these stories are nothing like one another, the beautiful writing, amazing characters, and important themes shine through. I went into this expecting a fun and spooky read (which it was), but what I also got was such a beautiful love letter to grief, depression, and trying to live in a world that has taken away someone who you feel you cannot live without.”

Side note: Anyone else super excited for the winter of the witch?  I can’t wait.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Katherine Arden – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

small spaces – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

the bear and the nightingale (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

the girl in the tower (On the Horizon – Fantasy Arc)

20 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – small spaces (Katherine Arden)

  1. I also adore Arden and am patiently (haha) waiting for the 3rd book to come out January 8th!!! I picked this one up in October and really enjoyed it. I almost wished she would have written it as a older MG book or even YA book so she could have had more liberties, but as a younger MG book it was lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also wondered what it would have been like if written for an older audience. The difference in writing style was very interesting. I want to read book 3 (christmas day) and see what else she comes up with in the future. Thanks for the comment matey!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hm… I keep hearing about about Katherine Arden and her amazing trilogy – and I haven’t yet had the pleasure. And you are yet another reviewer whose opinion I respect has recommended this author’s writing – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, her stuff is so atmospheric and lyrical and lovely. I already got me hands on an eArc of the third book. I am going to read it on Christmas Day as me gift to meself. Ye should definitely give her work a go. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awwwwww! I’ve been thinking about checking out Small Spaces, especially since I’ve really enjoyed Arden’s two adult books. But I guess I just haven’t prioritized it like I have with other books. I’ll have to change that in 2019.

    Speaking of creepy books for younger readers, have you looked into Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, I would recommend reading small spaces in 2019. It is quick and fun. And I have actually not read any of Victoria Schwab’s book even though the crew raves. I actually don’t ever know what she writes about to be honest. Perhaps I should put her work on the list for 2019. Should I start with her YA stuff? Does she write adult stuff? Any knowledge I previously had of her seems to have fallen out of me noggin.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! Victoria Schwab writes speculative fiction for all ages. City of Ghosts is MG paranormal, about a 12 yo girl who sees and communicates with ghosts going on an adventure in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her Monsters of Verity Duology is dark gritty YA dystopian / urban fantasy, where humans and monsters are at war and heroes and villains can be found on both sides. She also writes adult fantasy as V.E. Schwab, and her series under that pseudonym are the Shades of Magic Trilogy (portal fantasy with parallel Londons and blood magicians) and the Villians series (two books about anti-heroes who develop supernatural abilities after near-death experiences).

        Do any of those sound like they’d tickle your fancy? (I was trying to think of an appropriate, pirate-y analogy there, but couldn’t think of one! *lol*)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah okay. I do know her books. I heard about the multiple London ones. I might give City of Ghosts a try first. Urban fantasy is usually a miss but that duology sounds interesting. The villain series not so much. I will put some of her books on the 2019 list. Thank you for such a good explanation of the various tales. Arrr!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

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