New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden thrills once again in the finale to the critically acclaimed, bone-chilling quartet that began with Small Spaces.
It’s been three months since Ollie made a daring deal with the smiling man to save those she loved, and then vanished without a trace. The smiling man promised Coco, Brian and Phil, that they’d have a chance to save her, but as time goes by, they begin to worry that the smiling man has lied to them and Ollie is gone forever. But finally, a clue surfaces. A boy who went missing at a nearby traveling carnival appears at the town swimming hole, terrified and rambling. He tells anyone who'll listen about the mysterious man who took him. How the man agreed to let him go on one condition: that he deliver a message. Play if you dare.
Game on! The smiling man has finally made his move. Now it’s Coco, Brian, and Phil’s turn to make theirs. And they know just where to start. The traveling carnival is coming to Evansburg.
Meanwhile, Ollie is trapped in the world behind the mist, learning the horrifying secrets of the smiling man's carnival, trying everything to help her friends find her. Brian, Coco and Phil will risk everything to rescue Ollie—but they all soon realize this game is much more dangerous than the ones before. This time the smiling man is playing for keeps.
The summer nights are short, and Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Phil have only until sunrise to beat him once and for all—or it’s game over for everyone.
About the Author
Katherine Arden is the New York Times bestselling author of the Winternight trilogy and the Small Spaces quartet. In addition to writing novels, she enjoys aimless travel, growing vegetables, and running wild through the woods with her dog. She lives in Vermont.
Praise for Empty Smiles:
“The terror continues for Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Phil in this frightening series finale. . . Arden never disappoints with her thrilling, spine-tingling scenes and this book is full of them. First came scarecrows, ghosts, and monsters, but she has saved the best for last: evil clowns! Verdict: Fans of the series won’t be disappointed.” —School Library Journal
“Arden once again flexes her gift for atmospheric writing to envelop readers in the story’s eerie mist. The expert use of pacing and sensory cues—sights, sounds, and smells—helps heighten the genuinely terrifying chase scenes. Chess matches and conversations between Ollie and the smiling man humanize the shape-shifting villain, exposing just enough of his motives to wrap up unanswered questions. . . A thrilling and chilling end to a standard-setting series.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The final book in Arden’s quartet that started with Small Spaces (2018) deliciously ramps up the scares. . .Fittingly creepy. . .the unsettling atmosphere will delight middle-grade horror fans who want to send a chill up their spines.” —Booklist
Praise for Dark Waters: An Amazon Best Book – August 2021
“Arden skillfully blends a creature feature with a survival tale, taking the series into new territory without deviating from its successful formula. The deliberate pacing maintains a palpable sense of dread, equally anxiety-inducing and terrifying. . . Another deliciously hair-raising entry in a series that continues to make a huge splash.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Describing the creepy setting where all the action takes place with cinematic detail, Arden piles on the terror, weaving in Lake Champlain history and pirate lore.” —Buffalo News
“The ending definitely ramped up the stakes once more and I’m now anxiously awaiting the conclusion to this dark, creepy middle-grade series. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, now is the perfect time to do so, if only to suffer with us all through the wait for the final book.” —The Nerd Daily
“Genuinely spooky . . . Arden’s expert pacing and vivid descriptions ratchet up the tension deliciously, build eerie atmosphere, and make for some truly scary moments . . . [and] a tense cliff-hanger, which will leave readers on the hook for the next installment.” —Booklist
“Those who are attracted to mystery, adventure, and spooky stories will be drawn to this sequel like a moth to a flame.” —School Library Journal
“In this hair-raising novel . . . middle-grade readers, ages 8-12, and their adult reading companions, will be thrilled, and frightened, by this latest adventure. . . This is a very fun, and eerie, read-aloud.” —Addison County Independent
Praise for Dead Voices:
★ “Arden handily transforms the haunted house story into something much richer, scarier, and more sinister. . . Middle-graders who thrill to spooks and scares will find plenty (maybe even more than they bargained for!) here.” —Booklist, starred review
★ “Arden's high scare factor, richly drawn mountain setting, relevant themes of loss and belonging, and vividly eerie descriptions evoke the very best of horror for this age set.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “In this spooky sequel to Small Spaces, Arden excels at creating an atmosphere of claustrophobic tension with memorably menacing details. Readers will again be invested in the ghoulish surprises in store for the resourceful, likably flawed protagonists.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Praise for Small Spaces: ★ ★ ★ Three Starred Reviews 22 State Awards A Kirkus Best Book of 2018 – Middle-Grade A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018 – Middle-Grade A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2018 An Amazon Best Book – October 2018 A CCBC Choices List Pick – 2019 An ALA Notable Children’s Book – 2019
★ “Atmospheric horror at its best. Chillingly tender.”—Kirkus, starred review
★ “With a tantalizing pace and palpable suspense, all nicely grounded in realistic emotions, this well-wrought spine-tingler is destined to be a hit (just makes sure the lights stay on).”—Booklist, starred review
★ “Riveting…The story moves at a good pace with just enough clues to keep the reader intrigued and guessing.”—School Library Connection, starred review
“Is it a mystery? A fairy tale? A horror thriller? As the suspense gripped me, I just wanted to know one thing—WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Terrifying and fun.”—R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series