I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published by Random House Children's Books on 06/28/2022
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations, Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / General
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on: Amazon
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - From the critically-acclaimed author of House of Salt and Sorrows comes a mesmerizing and chilling fairy-talesque novel about Ellerie Downing, a young woman in a small town with monsters lurking in the trees and dark desires hidden in the shadows--in Amity Falls, nothing is more dangerous than a wish come true.
Unique, enchanting, and haunting.--Brigid Kemmerer, New York Times bestselling author of the Cursebreaker series
"Full of beasts, bargains, and blood, Small Favors is a folk horror tale that feels like a classic but is utterly fresh. Sweet, dark, and complex as wildflower honey."--Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf
"As dark and romantic as it haunting, Small Favors is an eerie fairytale that I couldn't put down."--Alexis Henderson, author of The Year of the Witching
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.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission or free services from the sale at no additional cost to you.
Trigger Warnings: Murder, Fire, Arson, Gore, Religious Fervor, Monsters, Animal Death
I’ve had Small Favors in my TBR for well over a year. I actually own a signed hardcover copy of the book that I’d pre-ordered back before it came out. Now the book is out in paperback and I’m just now getting around to reading it. Go me.
Erin A. Craig likes to do fairy tale retellings and from what I can gather, this one is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. At least that is what I’d guess from the favors – that was Rumpelstiltskin’s schtick after all. However, she does it in an unexpected way that makes you stop and think about it. It isn’t obvious at first.
I love the setting of Amity Falls – an idyllic little town that is mostly self-contained, but still requires a little bit of help from the outside world. I honestly wonder if perhaps Amity Falls isn’t one of those quaint towns frozen in the past – no electricity, no motor vehicles, none of the modern world’s trappings, while the city that lies beyond God’s Grasp is as modern as they come with all the normal things you’d find – cell phones, motor vehicles, electricity, solar panels, etc..
As part of this setting, I loved the aesthetic of the Downing Farm, where five bee hives and a field of flowers with which to provide them pollen were found. It’s funny that I loved the aesthetic of it so much when I’m not a fan of farms or countryside in real life.
Small Favors gives us a taste of what life is like in a small town when the darkness that is always present in the hearts of men is given a chance to fester. It seems by the end of the book nearly every family in town has turned against at least one other family. There is also the issue of Parson Briard, who seems to be taking his religious fervor a bit too far. Between Briard and the Lathetons, the religious fervor in town when it comes to what is going on makes a pretty big impact.
I enjoyed this book right up until the end of the book. The book ends in a way that many horror novels/movies do – with a smattering of survivors (no, I won’t tell you who) making their way away from the horrors of what they’ve just experienced. In all honesty, I’d have liked to have seen an epilogue to at least let us know if Ellerie, Merry, and Sadie ever saw their parents again, but I can also live without it.
If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling that moves into dark fantasy/horror, I highly recommend Small Favors as a starting point.