After how much I loved House of Salt and Sorrows, I admit I had high expectations for Erin A. Craig’s next book. Small Favors has a contrasting cover, being a bright yellow covered in bees rather than a deep ocean of coral and waves. I was intrigued: it looked like it would carry the opposite tone. But when I read the synopsis, I knew that my assumption was wrong. Small Favors carries the same psychological horror and mystery that House of Salt and Sorrows executed so perfectly.
Small Favors is the story of Ellerie, a young girl learning how to help her father run their apiary – a honey farm and a home for the bees that make that honey. As Ellerie’s life takes wrong turn after wrong turn, she begins to wonder about the woods outside the town – do they truly contain monsters fierce enough to have caused as these terrible things? Who is the mysterious and handsome man who walked out of the woods one day, catching her eye with his charm? And how is she going to take care of her brother and sisters? With an uncertain future growing larger before her, Ellerie must find the courage within herself to stand where she was meant to and do what she must. Unless, of course, it’s all in her head.
I found Ellerie’s character to be immensely interesting. The heroine from House of Salt and Sorrows was intriguing for similar reasons, but Ellerie stood out to me much more clearly. Ellerie had an inner strength that reminded me of the women in my family that I’m descended from. Hardworking farmer’s wives that aren’t afraid to do what needs to be done to protect family and farm. Her connection to the bees was special. It brightened her personality and provided me with a basis for her morals. The other characters in this story are also vivid, except for a few of the townspeople, but none of them had a solid motivation in one direction. As with her previous book, Craig masterfully wove the minds of her characters in circles of confusion so that neither the reader nor the character themselves has a complete sense of reality. I love this trope being used in novels, and Craig does it better than anyone else I’ve read.
I want to say more about this novel, but I’m afraid that anything could be construed as a spoiler, and this is not a book you want spoiled. The reveals throughout the second half of the novel are too perfect and startling.
I recommend this novel to fans of House of Salt and Sorrows (of course), psychological fantasy, strong heroines, and young adult horror. Goodreads lists Untamed by Glennon Doyle and All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter as similar books, though I haven’t read either of these to confirm. If you want to read the official synopsis or read other reviews of Small Favors, click on the Goodreads link down below! This novel appeals to many audiences and I think it’s a great introduction to young adult horror if you’re looking to get into that.
Thanks for reading! Happy Spooky Season!
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