Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden
Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden is the final book in the Small Spaces series for 4-6th graders.
It's been months since Ollie made her deal with the Smiling Man to save her father and everyone thinks she is dead. Everyone, except for her friends Coco, Brian and Phil. The Smiling Man promised Ollie was safe and that they'd get a chance to win her back.
As time goes by, the friends begin to wonder if the Smiling Man was lying until he suddenly appears and tells them the game has begun. Can Coco, Brian and Phil uncover the secret to the Smiling Man's game and can Ollie keep herself safe behind the mist until her friends can get to her?
Man, I loved the Small Spaces series so much. It's spooky and fun and I just love a good horror for kids. Hell, even adults would probably enjoy this one... and be spooked a bit too! I was so hyped for this book, I couldn't wait to see how the kids were going to overcome the Smiling Man and finally end everything once and for all. Which, is why I was so bummed that this book didn't meet my expectations. I didn't have that thrill I got from reading the other books. I wanted to like it so much, but it just fell flat.
I think there were two major reasons for my lackluster opinion about this final book in the series. Most obviously, is the ending. What a womp womp conclusion. **Obvious spoiler alert** Ollie and her friends beat the Smiling man and then bam, book ends. There was no real reunion, the just make it out of the mist and the end. I found this super frustrating after investing so much time in the series. **End spoiler**
The second reason I found this book so-so, was that I was hoping we would get more background on who the Smiling Man is and what he does. We do get a little bit but there was this really deep relationship between the Smiling Man and Ollie being built, that I really was expecting something more to happen between them.
Overall, this series gets a 4 or higher. But individually, this book gets a mediocre 3 stars.
That's all for now!