Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Review: Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

Creepy, disturbing and in a class of it's own ... and that's just the blurb. Small Spaces is a novel that promises readers one heck of a ride. And it delivers. Oh, how it delivers ...

When she was eight years old, Tash Carmondy witnessed her imaginary, and very, very, nasty friend Sparrow abduct a younger girl at a carnival. Mallory was found a week later, but has been mute ever since and has no memory of her abduction. As for Tash, no one believed her about Sparrow. Branded an attention seeker, and after years of psychiatric treatment at the hands of bossy Dr Ingrid, she has come to accept that what she saw probably wasn't real. The only problem is that now both Mallory and Sparrow have returned to her small town and things are starting to get creepy. What really happened to Mallory? Are there supernatural forces at play, or is there something far more disturbing going on?

Small Spaces takes readers on a hell of a ride as Tash tries to work out what really happened on the day that Mallory was abducted. There are all kinds of clues--a strange aunt and a family feud, the way her parents keep watch and never quite trust her, the mean girl at school who gets a kick out of making fun of Tash and her neurosis who [[[spoiler alert]]] gets attacked after an argument with Tash, and also Mallory's older brother who takes a very keen interest in Tash. The author skilfully weaves the clues into the narrative, while also providing some relevant commentary on adolescent mental health and the need for people to listen to, and to understand kids, instead of branding their behaviour as attention seeking. I was annoyed that one character got off as lightly as she did, though it does (sadly) reflect what would most likely happen in real life. Older readers may clue in parts of the mystery early on, but there are enough red herrings to keep them wondering anyway.

A creepy but enjoyable read.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018