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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Book Review: Small Places by Matthew Samuels

Small Places 
by Matthew Samuels
August 3, 2021
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 325
CW: Strong language and violence throughout, with some graphic injury detail, scenes of involuntary restraint, giant spiders, dead animals, implied cruelty to animals, and some fantastical creatures of a horrifying nature

TW: Cancer, mention of previous self-harm and an instance of a drink being tampered with

Small Places is a no-nonsense urban fantasy fairy story. Jamie, a shy, lonely boy, runs an errand for a witch as a child, helping them ease a family friend’s experience of cancer. Thirteen years later, Jamie’s own mother is suffering from terminal cancer as well, and he’s come back to his childhood village to spend more time with her before the end. He receives a card from the witch, Melusine, asking for his help – and casting his mind back to his childhood experience – goes to see her, hoping she can help his mother. Amidst freak earthquakes and storms, he’s drawn into working with the bad-tempered Mel in an effort to find out what’s wrong with Gaia, the earth spirit, as they visit the Seelie and Unseelie courts, finding the former racist and the latter paranoid, meeting stoned fauns and beer-brewing trolls along the way. It’ll appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London series, Charles de Lint’s work or Clive Barker’s Abarat series.

A short while ago, I read a book that depicted totally unique deities and I ended up appreciating it for just that fact more than I liked anything else. This book, Small Places, pleasantly surprised me in a similar way. By the time I got to reading it, I'd forgotten all about its blurb. So, I was going in blind and didn't know what to expect. It opens in a small boring town and two kids, which is why I wasn't expecting it to wow me. And then, things began to happen. Good things. Original things. Supernatural things -- all of them my favorites! Original characters that I haven't read about and had a chance to fall in love with took up the stage and I liked them. The protagonist's mentor is suitably grey, which made me feel conflicted in the same way about them as the protagonist did. There was also a mystery that was bigger than them and smaller ones that affected the protagonist on a more personal scale. 

A fun book that's sad, funny, and violent in equal proportions.

3 delighted sheep!


ReviewerMidu Reads
Most of my go-to series are 3 starrers
*No rating - wasn't my genre/dnf'd so rating it would be unfair
1 sheep - won't be picking up another book in a series again
2 sheep - average read with overused tropes and cliches. Will give the author another try/only continuing because of OCD, so must finish a series
2.5 sheep - liked the book but was put off because it was overly long/illtreatment of a character the author had me invest in and so on.
3 sheep - enjoyed the book but have reservations because I expected to be wowed and wasn't
4 sheep - was unputdownable
5 sheep - formed an emotional connection, will read the heck outta this series

About the Author:

Matthew Samuels is a science fiction and fantasy writer based in London, UK. His first novel was the Sci-Fi Solarpunk / Hopepunk adventure story Parasites, the first book in the Navigator Series. He enjoys reading, gaming, running, walking, EDM and perversely, quiet.

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