SMALL FAVORS by ERIN CRAIG
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Since her debut novel (House of Salt and Sorrows), Erin Craig has become an author to watch for me. I love her lyrical prose and fantastical, Gothic plots, and I love her wacky twist endings. Salt and Sorrows had a totally out-there twist at the end, and while I can totally understand why readers wouldn’t like it, I loved it. Small Favors also has the same sort of thing. Instead of being set on an island by the sea like in Salt and Sorrows, Small Favors is set in the extremely rural town of Amity Falls, a place vaguely settled in colonial America. We’re never told as readers where exactly Amity Falls is–just that it’s extremely isolated and within a valley they call God’s Grasp–but the pure isolation of it all is what I liked about it. Amity Falls’ townsfolk are all very religious and superstitious, guided by tenants the founders of their town set forth long ago. The chief among them being this: Never go into the woods. You never know what manner of beast might be lurking in there.
Small Favors follows eighteen-year-old Ellerie Downing and her siblings–Sam, Merry, and Sadie. They run a bee farm on the outskirts of Amity Falls and sell their honey to the townsfolk to make a living. While Amity Falls is self-sufficient, they still need to make supply runs twice a year to stock up for the winter. When one of these supply runs is attacked by what many claim are monsters, things start getting very…strange in the idyllic village of Amity Falls. Crops fail. Livestock are born mutated. And the otherwise mild-mannered townsfolk are getting very, very angry. What follows is a haunting folk horror story that proves that good fences don’t always make good neighbors.
Despite Small Favors clocking in at almost 500 pages, I flew through it. I loved Craig’s prose and the creeping sense of dread I felt throughout the book. The horrific moments were great–more dead-inducing than jumpscare–and I loved the folklore upon which the town operated. There are some dramatic scenes that felt like they’d make for a great movie, too (calling Hollywood to adapt this as we speak). There were never any moments where I felt that the book dragged despite it being so long, though there were some elements to the book I can nitpick at a little. I thought Ellerie’s romance with her trapper beau, Whitaker, was half-baked. Craig could have got a lot farther with it. Instead, Whitaker disappears for good chunks of the book (for a reason, but still), and we’re supposed to believe they’re in love by the end. The climax of the plot was great, however, and if this were an adult book, I can see Craig leaning even more into the horror aspects. I still largely enjoyed what I read and would recommend it to anyone looking for a horror read similar to Midsommar or The Village.
You can pick up our copy of Small Favors at the Oreana Library today!