After most of The Young Folks staff, including me, raved about Erin A. Craig’s debut House Of Salt and Sorrows, I had high expectations for her sophomore novel. I found House of Salt and Sorrows to be addicting–creepy and mysterious enough to keep me curious but also full of depth and characters that I came to care for in the few hundred pages. Small Favors has that unique blend of pathos while also being creepy. Just like with House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig delivered on a story so well told, I’ll be able to evoke images from it long after I’ve finished.
Small Favors takes place in a small town–Amity Falls–nestled in God’s Grasp–a valley made out of five peaks that is cut off from most of civilization. Mostly self-sufficient, the town is reliant on the Rules that govern the town and presided over by the town’s Elders to keep order. After the monsters that once plagued the town appear to come back and her mother is gravely injured in a fire, eighteen-year-old Ellerie Downing and the rest of the town become suspicious of one another and the outsiders that have found their way to Amity Falls.
Ellerie tries her best to keep her family together but the growing tension with her twin brother, the absence of their parents, and the strange happenings in town make it hard for her to even keep her own head clear.
What’s so wonderful about this book is how the tension mounts and the questions pile until the reader is forced to hold their breath and read in wonder and a burning need to know what happens next. The characters are so well drawn that any slight argument between them feels keenly felt. Erin A. Craig certainly knows how to write relationships and the sister bonds that I loved from House of Salt and Sorrows exist here as well.
It’s also impossible not to feel as if Amity Falls–the woods beyond, the fields that make up the Downing’s land, the tiny main street–is also a main character. I felt as if I’ve been to the Falls for how well the author describes it. If you’re looking for a book that truly transports you–this one is it. Though chilling and probably not as welcoming as other fictional small towns, I really loved reading the care and detail that went into describing the place, its people, and story.
This book was perfect for the summer heat but I would urge anyone interested to check it out during late August or September, when the book is set. This is a book you can certainly binge read but also that you can savor as the air turns crisper. Either way, you’re in for one of the best books releasing in 2021.
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig will be published on July 27, 2021.