Author: Erin A. Craig
Length: 14.5 hours
Narrator: Rachel Music
Publisher: Listening Library
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy, Horror
Ellerie lives in Amity Falls, a small town surrounded by forest in the mountains. Long ago, the first settlers of the town fought off devils in the woods, creatures that fulfill your deepest desires—in exchange for a small favor. Now, it seems they’ve returned. A supply party going missing is only the beginning of misfortunes to plague the town. As tensions rise and mistrust amongst the townsfolk sets in, Ellerie finds herself in the middle of it all—and, she realizes, quite possibly the only one who can stop the destruction of Amity Falls.
I read Craig’s debut House of Salt and Sorrows two years ago and was utterly shocked by how much I enjoyed it. I truly didn’t expect much from it, but it captivated me and thrilled me to the end. You can see my review of that novel here.
Craig has done it again with Small Favors, told in first person POV from Ellerie’s perspective. Set in a small mountainous town called Amity Falls, this fantasy horror novel explores what happens to Ellerie and her family—and the entire town—when mysterious creatures take up residence in the surrounded woods. The presence of these creatures upsets the delicate balance of the community, bringing forth within the townsfolk their basest, most deplorable selves. But the novel is also a love story between Ellerie and a peculiar stranger who has arrived in the Falls.
Ellerie is a frustrating narrator and main character. I loved her and sympathized with her, but I also wanted to grab her shoulders and shake some sense into her in some scenes—especially towards the end. Though I will say as frustrating as she was in those final chapters, Ellerie was also a total badass and was amazingly brave. As for her handsome stranger, I wish we could have gotten more scenes with him. I know, I know: this isn’t a romance novel. But man did I want a little more than what we got.
The atmosphere of the novel is downright chilling. I got literal chills countless times while reading, which doesn’t often happen to me. (Maybe it’s because I was listening to the audiobook?) It’s a quietly spooky book until close to the end when it becomes downright gruesome. The build-up is maddening, the pace just right. I couldn’t wait to see where the story was going to go and end up. Craig has a way of hooking your attention from the very first chapter and not letting go until the end.
Speaking of the end: usually I am all for ambiguous endings in books. I don’t need everything spelled out for me. But in this case, I found myself wishing for an epilogue… I would have loved to see what happened after the final scene, to see characters we hadn’t seen in a long time and to see where our main characters ended up. I doubt Craig will write a sequel, so I really wish she would have written one more chapter!
Overall, an incredible sophomore novel from Erin A. Craig, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite and auto-buy authors. I’m kind of sad I listened to both of her books on audiobook, now—I want to see them on my shelves! Guess I’ll need to buy them eventually. If you loved the vibe and storytelling in House of Salt and Sorrows, or if you’re just a fantasy horror fan in general, I think you’ll enjoy this novel. I know Craig is already working on her next book, so all I can say is I cannot wait for it.