Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Synopsis: 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, no matter how 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. (Goodreads)
For anyone who’s read Stephen King’s Needful Things, you’ll definitely recognize some similarities in regards to residents of a small town making bargains with a supernatural creature, but Small Favors takes this central premise in a creative new direction.
One of the strengths of this novel is the character development. I absolutely loved Ellerie and her family, although Samuel, Ellerie’s disagreeable twin, had me perplexed throughout most of the book. Ellerie is a fantastic protagonist. She’s eighteen, and is struggling to find her role within her family and the town. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she determinedly forges ahead. She displays a tremendous amount of love and loyalty to those she cares about, even the bees she and her family raise. Her relationship with “Whitaker” begins as a case of insta-love, but their romance fades into the background through a good portion of the book because of everything else going on. The other residents of Amity Falls are equally well written and and help bring the story to life.
The plot is an interesting mix of historical fiction with mythological/supernatural overtones, and Ellerie’s climactic confrontation with the queen of the Dark Watchers, is an enjoyable battle of wits that takes on aspects of Rumplestiltskin. I confess to having mixed feelings regarding the open ending. I like how Amity Falls’ ultimate fate again harkens back to Needful Things, but there are some minor questions I feel aren’t fully answered, mainly regarding Samuel’s actions and how the Downing family are going to be able to move forward. But these are definitely not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story. What I love the most is the thoughtful exploration of how the Dark Ones are responsible for setting the horrible and tragic events which occur in motion, but in the end, it’s the townsfolk themselves who are responsible for most of what ensues.
Overall, Small Favors is a wonderful follow-up to Craig’s debut The House of Salt and Sorrows, and will undoubtedly please her fans as well as win her new ones. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what this imaginative storyteller comes out with next.