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Small Spaces by [Katherine Arden]
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Small Spaces Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 953 ratings

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

She pedaled hard past the hay bales in the roundabout on Main Street, turned onto Daisy Lane and raced past the clapboard houses, where jack-o’-lanterns grinned on every front porch. She aimed her bike to knock down a rotting gray rubber hand groping up out of the earth in the Steiners’ yard, turned again at Johnson Hill and climbed panting up the steep dirt road.

No one came after her. Well, why would they, Ollie thought. She was Off School Property.

Ollie let her bike coast down the other side of Johnson Hill. was good to be alone in the warm sunshine. The river ran silver to her right, chattering over rocks. The fire-colored trees shook their leaves down around her. It wasn’t hot, exactly—but warm for October. Just cool enough for jeans, but the sun was warm when you tilted your face to it.

The swimming hole was Ollie’s favorite place. Not far from her house, it had a secret spot on a rock half-hidden by a waterfall. That spot was Ollie’s, especially on fall days. After mid-September, she was the only one there. People didn’t go to swimming holes once the weather turned chilly.
Other than her homework, Ollie was carrying Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini, a broken-spined paperback that she’d dug out of her dad’s bookshelves. She mostly liked it. Peter Blood outsmarted everyone, which was a feature she liked in heroes, although she wished Peter were a girl, or the villain were a girl, or someone in the book besides his boat and his girlfriend (both named Arabella) were a girl. But at least the book had romance and high seas adventures and other absolutely not Evansburg things. Ollie liked that. Reading it meant going to a new place where she wasn’t Olivia Adler at all.

Ollie braked her bike. The ground by the road was carpeted with scarlet leaves; sugar maples start losing their leaves before other trees. Ollie kept a running list in her head of sugar maples in Evansburg that didn’t belong to anyone. When the sap ran, she and her mom would—

Nope. No, they wouldn’t. They could buy maple syrup.

The road that ran beside the swimming hole looked like any other stretch of road. A person just driving by wouldn’t know the swimming hole was there. But, if you knew just where to look, a skinny dirt trail went from the road to the water. Ollie walked her bike down the trail. The trees seemed to close in around her. Above was a white-railed bridge. Below, the stream paused in its trip down the mountain. It spread out, grew deep and quiet enough for swimming. There was a cliff for jumping and plenty of hiding places for one girl and her book. Ollie hurried. She was eager go and read by the water and be alone.

The trees ended suddenly, and Ollie was standing on the bank of a cheerful brown swimming hole.
But, to her surprise, there was someone already there.

A slender woman, wearing jeans and flannel, stood at the edge of the water. Her jeans were nice, her flannel soft, but her boots were muddy and worn, the leather cracking across one heel.
The woman was sobbing.

Maybe Ollie’s foot scuffed a rock, because the woman jerked upright and whirled around. Ollie gulped. The woman was pretty, with amber-honey hair. But she had circles under her eyes like purple thumbprints. Streaks of mascara had run down her face, like she’d been crying for awhile.

“Hello,” The woman said, trying to smile. “You surprised me.” Her eyes looked—stretched—the way a dog looks, hiding under the bed during a thunderstorm. Her white-knuckled hands gripped a small, dark thing.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Ollie said cautiously.

Why are you crying? she wanted to ask. But it seemed impolite to ask that question to a grown-up, even if her face was streaked with the runoff from her tears.

The woman didn’t reply; she darted a glance to the rocky path by the creek, then back to the water. Like she was looking out for something. Or someone.

Ollie felt a chill creep down her spine. She said, “Are you okay?”

“Of course.” The woman tried to smile again. Fail. The wind rustled the leaves. Ollie glanced behind her. Nothing.

“I’m fine,” repeated the woman. She turned the dark thing over in her hands. Then she said, in a rush, “I just have to get rid of this. Put it in the water. And then—” The woman broke off.

Then? What then? The woman held the thing out over the water. Ollie saw that it was a small black book, the size of her spread-out hand, with a cloth cover, its pages stained deep yellow.

Her reaction was pure reflex. “You can’t throw away a book!” Ollie let go of her bike and jumped forward. Part of her wondered, Why would you come here to throw a book in the river? You can donate a book. There were donation boxes all over Evansburg.

“I have to!” snapped the woman, bringing Ollie up short. The woman went on, half to herself, “That’s the bargain. Make the arrangements. Then give the book to the water.” She gave Ollie a pleading look. “I don’t have a choice, you see.”

Ollie tried to drag the conversation out of crazy town. “You can donate a book if you don’t want it,” she said firmly. “Or—or give it to someone. Don’t just throw it in the river.”

“I have to,” said the woman again.

“Have to drop a book in the river?”

“Before tomorrow,” said the woman. Almost to herself, she whispered, “Tomorrow’s the day.”

Ollie was nearly within arm’s reach now. The woman smelled sour—frightened. Ollie, completely at sea, decided to ignore the stranger elements of the conversation. Later, she would wish she hadn’t. “If you don’t want that book, I’ll take it,” said Ollie. “I like books.”

The woman shook her head. “He said water. Upstream. Where Lethe Creek runs out of the mountain. I’m here. I’m doing it!” She shrieked the last sentence as though someone besides Ollie was listening. Ollie had to stop herself from looking behind her again.

“Why?” she asked. Little mouse feet crept up her spine.

“Who knows?” the woman whispered. “Just his game, maybe. He enjoys what he does, you know, and that is why he’s always smiling—” She smiled too, a joyless pumpkin-head grin.

Ollie nearly yelped. But instead, her hand darted up and she snatched the book. It felt old under her fingers, gritty with dust. Surprised at her own daring, Ollie hurriedly backed up.

The woman’s face turned red. “Give that back!” A glob of spit hit Ollie in the cheek.

“I don’t think so,” said Ollie. “You don’t want it anyway.” She was backing toward her bike, half expecting the woman to fling herself forward.

The woman was staring at Ollie as if really seeing her for the first time. “Why—?” A horrified understanding dawned on her face that Ollie didn’t understand. “How old are you?”

Ollie was still backing toward her bike. “Twelve,” she answered, by reflex. Almost there . . .

“Twelve?” the woman breathed. “Twelve. Of course, twelve.” Ollie couldn’t tell if the woman were giggling or crying. Maybe both. “Its his kind of joke—” She broke off, leaned forward to whisper. “Listen to me, Twelve. I’m going to tell you one thing, because I’m not a bad person. I just didn’t have a choice. I’ll give you some advice, and you give me the book.” She had her hand out, fingers crooked like claws.

Ollie, poised on the edge of flight, said, “Tell me what?” The stream rushed and rippled, but the harsh sounds of the woman breathing were louder than the water.

“Avoid large places at night,” the woman breathed. “Keep to small.”

“Small?” Ollie was torn between wanting to run and wanting to understand. “That’s it?”

“Small!” shrieked the woman. “Small spaces! Keep to small spaces or see what happens to you! Just see!” She burst into wild laughter. The animatronic witch sitting outside the Brewsters’ next to a cauldron of dry ice laughed like that. “Now give me that book!” Her laughter turned into a whistling, shrieking sob; her hands reached out, snatching.

Ollie heaved the Schwinn around and fled with it up the trail from the creek. The woman’s footsteps scraped behind. “Come back!” she panted. “Come back!”

Ollie was already on the main road, her leg thrown over the bike’s saddle. She rode home as fast as she could, bent low over her handlebars, hair streaming in the wind, the book lying in her pocket like a secret.
  --This text refers to the paperback edition.


Praise for Small Spaces:
★ ★ ★ Three Starred Reviews
A Kirkus Best Book of 2018 - Middle-Grade
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018 - Middle-Grade
A Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best Books of 2018
An Amazon Best Book - October 2018

"Atmospheric horror at its best. Chillingly tender."--Kirkus, starred review

"With a tantalizing pace and palpable suspense, all nicely grounded in realistic emotions, this well-wrought spine-tingler is destined to be a hit (just makes sure the lights stay on)."--Booklist, starred review

★ "Riveting...The story moves at a good pace with just enough clues to keep the reader intrigued and guessing."--School Library Connection, starred review

"Is it a mystery? A fairy tale? A horror thriller? As the suspense gripped me, I just wanted to know one thing--WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Terrifying and fun."--R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series

"The perfect book to be read by firelight during a chilly autumn evening--though you might find yourself inching closer to the light as the story nears its terrifying conclusion. Katherine Arden is a gifted storyteller with a wicked imagination!"--J. A. White, author of The Thickety series and Nightbooks

"This book scared the snot out of me. Fast-paced and spine-tinglingly delightful. I defy you to read the first two chapters without staying up the rest of the night to finish. You've been warned!"--Jonathan Auxier New York Times bestselling author of The Night Gardener

"This supernatural thriller [is] a page-turner, but it's Ollie's journey through grief and into friendship that makes it memorable." -The Horn Book Magazine

"A winning combination of thrills, chills, humor, and heart. Hand to fans of Holly Black's Doll Bones and readers who enjoy the works of Mary Downing Hahn and Jonathan Stroud." -The School Library Journal

"Arden...shrouds her Halloween-time story in autumnal mists, introducing a...cast of ominous figures, from ghosts to shapeshifters and scarecrow minions. Ollie is a relatable heroine who finds strength through trusting in friendship, while her ghostly adventures lead her to learn an important truth: sometimes, the best way to honor the memory of a loved one is by moving forward, bravely, and with love."--Publishers Weekly

" The novel's menacing fantasy world of centuries-old ghosts and children being turned into scarecrows is provocative enough, but explicit references to Narnia, Wonderland, and Cerberus of Hades make for a smart and moving account of how stories may transport but grief and loss still take a lot from us." -- BCCB --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B077LTTXN5
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (25 September 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2889 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 218 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 953 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
953 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 18 October 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Halloween 🎃Read!!!📖
By Akshaykumar on 18 October 2020
This book is a MIDDLE GRADE BOOK and the 1st book in a series by katherine arden and a perfect spooky Halloween🎃 read.🧟‍♂️🚍 Soon gonna order the 2nd book the dead voices..If you are thinking to buy then go now your missing a great adventure..

11 Year old Olivia Adler lives with her family in EAST EVANSBURG..whatever I will say you can read in description and I don't wanna give any spoilers...

''Until the mist becomes the Rain''

And the MRP IS 399 and I got this book in 351Rs..

Note: before buying any book check It's MRP first..
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Reviewed in India on 26 April 2021
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Reviewed in India on 22 February 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars 100% reccomend 🙂👍
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 September 2019
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G. Noble
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly short read (just over 200 pages) but with lots packed into those pages
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 March 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy but clever read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Really atmospheric
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 May 2020
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Chrissie Muldoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! Read it in a day
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019
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