Wednesday, July 14, 2021

ARC Review: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Title: Small Favors
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 480
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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.

House of Salt and Sorrows remains one of my favorite retellings after it swept me away with its spooky atmosphere and amazing characters last year. As soon as I saw that Erin A. Craig was releasing a new book I preordered, no questions asked! I was even more excited to get approved for an ARC and jumped into it immediately!

Ellerie Downing lives in Amity Falls with her family and helps her dads tend their bees. Her mother is in an unfortunate accident and her parents leave the village early on to get her help and are never seen again. The dynamic between Ellerie and her siblings was probably my favorite part of this book, much like the relationships in House of Salt and Sorrows. I enjoyed watching them support each other and work together to get by once their parents had left. 

Of course, there's also romance and the love interest is a trapper named Whitaker who happens to pass by their house. While Whitaker was a fascinating character, the romance was a little strange to me. He was only in a handful of scenes and the romance felt forced even though it was spread out over a series of months. I honestly feel that this could have worked just as well if not better without the romantic relationship between the two. 

Small Favors was originally marketed as The Village meets Needful Things so I was had really high expectations for the horror going in. In reality, the only similarity between this and The Village is that they live in an actual village. This book was an extremely slow burn that unfortunately lost me halfway through.

While Small Favors starts out feeling a bit creepy, there wasn't much to it beyond a family going about life in a small village and squabbles amongst neighbors as they run low on supplies for the winter. There were some tense moments and feelings of dread throughout the book, but I honestly don't know that I would classify this as horror. The explanation given at the end was interesting and I thought there was a good idea there, but I expected more of the execution. 

I completely forgot until after I finished this that it was supposed to be a Rumpelstiltskin retelling and I just don't see it. The fairytale retelling is extremely vague and I certainly hope people aren't going into this book hoping for that! I will still give Erin A. Craig's next book a try because House was incredible, but perhaps with lower expectations. If you like survival stories that are light on horror, you will probably enjoy this one more than I did!