Title: Small Favors by Erin A Craig
Published: July 27, 2021
Genre(s): fantasy, young adult, historical fiction, quiet horror
Read as: ARC, ebook
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.
This is a review of an ARC. All opinions are my own.
I…what? My feelings about this book are thumping around in my brain like a wadded up shirt in a tumble drier. And not in the fun, “Wwhhheeee!” way the makes you think of a roller coaster. More of the, “I think I may vomit,” kind of way. Where do I even begin to talk about this book?
Let’s start with some positives. The first half of this book was honestly pretty good. Ellerie started off as a very interesting character who was showing a lot of growth and change when her life got turned on its head when her mother was horribly injured and her father had to take her far away to see a proper doctor. With her father away she had to learn to take care of the family home, her younger sisters, and the bees that provided them with a living. Seeing her struggles and how she tried her best to overcome them, how they changed her, was entertaining and I became invested in the character.
Then, well, then we get to the second half of the book. I swear, it was as if the second half was written by someone completely different than the first half. Being a YA novel we end up, of course, with a love interest for Ellerie. Now, that is not something I normally have a complaint about as I enjoy romance in my books but this was just…bad. Talk about instalove! Whitaker is everything you expect in a YA love interest. Handsome, charming, and possessing all the personality of cauliflower rice. His story has a “big twist” but if you have more than two brains cells knocking around it isn’t difficult to figure out.
I’m finding it difficult to review this book. There are a lot of little plot points that come together to pretend to make a whole and they are all made to feel important but none are ever properly addressed. There is a lot of, “Oh! This thing happened and it is a big deal and we need to talk about it constantly for two chapters and consult our old white man elders about it!” and then it gets brushed under the rug and we move onto the next Thing. Even the conclusion felt like a bunch of plot points brushed aside under the guise of a finale. Nothing was resolved at any point and there were so many plot points left flapping in the breeze that it was impossible to feel any kind of closure.
Heres the thing. If you enjoyed Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows I very much imagine that you will enjoy Small Favors as well. Why? I had very similar feelings at the end of Salt and Sorrows as I did this novel. Completely unnecessary and dull love interest, plot points that go nowhere, and an unsatisfying conclusion under the guise of some fantasy elements. Not very entertaining and it left quite a bad taste in my mouth.
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