If you keep up with my blog or have seen any of my previous posts you know that in August I read and loved “A House of Salt and Sorrows” by Erin Craig. At the time I was reading the book, Erin Craig’s newest book “Small Favors” came out. I decided to read it since I loved her first book so much.
“Small Favors” takes place in the small town of Amity Falls. There are stories of monsters lurking in the woods since the founding of the town, but no one has seen these monsters since the time of the founders. When members of a supply run are found dead in the woods, the people of the town start to suspect that the monsters have returned.
While the townspeople are concerned about surviving a harsh winter, beasts capable of tearing men apart in seconds, and the appearance of weird mutations in animals, Ellerie Downing becomes aware of a different type of monster lurking around the town. These monsters convince the townspeople to do terrible things to each other in return for small favors.
Will the townspeople survive the winter without the necessary supplies or will the monsters get to them first?
Erin Craig’s Writing
I absolutely loved this book. I rated it five out of five stars and actually enjoyed it more than “A House of Salt and Sorrows”. As with her first book Craig’s writing is amazing.
The atmosphere of the town and the woods is haunting and dark. Sometimes the woods themselves feel like the monster of the story. Craig does a wonderful job of describing the horrors that occur in the town and the woods.
There are several plot threads woven throughout the entirety of the book that do not come to a conclusion until the end of the book. Many of the conclusions to those plot threads are unexpected.
Throughout the story, we see how the townspeople start to go mad and fight each other at the urgings of the monsters. The truly fascinating part is that the monsters are not wholly responsible for the chaos and madness in the town. All the monsters do with the favors is pull on the strings already tearing the town apart.
The characters are all well written and truly keep the story moving forward. It is the interactions of the characters and the ancestors of the characters that gave the monsters something to feed on. The monsters did not create all of the discourse between the characters but rather fed on the ideas they held about their fellow townspeople. The characters felt like real people with real struggles and desires. These struggles and desires help you as the reader understand how the monsters were able to send the town spiralling into madness.
The characters are the driving force behind the story. If the characters were poorly written, the story would not work as well. The struggles and desires of the townspeople needed to be known so that the reader could understand the actions taken by both the townspeople and the monsters.
The Retelling Elements
“Small Favors” is a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story. I love the way the Rumpelstiltskin elements are woven into the story. The two main characters Ellerie and Whitaker Price have multiple conversations about the importance of names as he has given her a fake name.
The monsters in the story are the Rumpelstiltskin character. The monsters give the townspeople what they want in return for small favors. The small favors are designed to further the discourse and madness within the town of Amity Falls.
Every townsperson in Amity Falls is the character of the miller’s daughter who receives what they want in return for a favor. The monsters can only be defeated when their target learns their true names. Ellerie is able to figure out the name of the head monster thanks to the conversations she had with Whitaker who was one of the monsters plaguing the town.
“There’s a power in names, don’t you think? Once your name is given away, you can’t help but be pulled along by those who have it.”
― Erin A. Craig, Small Favors
The next question that I am sure is on your mind given the praises I have for this book is whether or not there are any elements of this book that I did not enjoy. The answer is yes, just not enough to knock down my rating of the book.
The first con so to speak is that I wish the book had been longer. I am not just saying this to spend more time in the story, but rather that I would have preferred a slower descent into madness for the town rather than how quickly the madness took over at the end of the book.
The second con is that the book ends with Ellerie and a couple of other people leaving the town. We do not know whether or not they made it to the nearest city to Amity Falls. We do not know if the story of Amity Falls becomes as known as the story of other towns plagued by the same monsters.
We do not see Ellerie reunite with her parents after they left Amity Falls when her mother was injured even though we know that they are alive. The book did not need to be too much longer, but it could have benefitted from an epilogue where Ellerie and her sisters are reunited with their parents.
Should You Read This Book?
“Small Favors” is a haunting book that delves into the human psyche and the lengths people are willing to go to to get what they want. It is a perfect book to read during the spooky season. Erin Craig has officially become one of my favorite authors.
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