Dark Waters (Small Spaces, book 3)
By: Katherine Arden
My Rating: Four out of five stars
Best for: 12 and up
What!? An unexpected cliffhanger!!!
I know Katherine Arden best from The Winternight Trilogy, her fantastic historical fantasy series set in long ago Russia. It’s a wonderful story, full of with amazing characters, connections to myths and traditions, and while it’s not a scare story…there are some legit moments throughout when you probably won’t want to be reading alone in the dark.
That little intro is to say: Katherine Arden knows how to be creepy! The real proof is in this really fun middle grade series that began with Small Spaces back in 2018, and continued with Dead Voices 2019, Dark Waters in 2021, and a fourth book without a current release date but hopefully soon. In the spirit of RL Stine, these books are intentionally, purposely, skillfully, and truly spooky! I was impressed with Small Spaces. I was freaked out by Dead Voices. I was surprised the story in Dark Waters.
I was surprised by the creepiness of Small Spaces. In that first book, our hero’s 6th grade class goes on a Fall field trip to a farm to enjoy a corn maze–only to discover the farm is cursed and the terrible rotter called The Smiling Man is pulling all the strings. I’m never, ever going to look at scarecrows the same way again. In Dead Voices, our hero’s confront the ghosts hiding in a haunted orphaned turned ski lodged while trapped during a Winter snow storm. Deep Waters, set on a boat in the Springtime, surprised me. It wasn’t quite the scare fest of Dead Voices, but I loved the direction the story took when the kids and their parents are shipwrecked and marooned on a mysterious island that doesn’t show up on any maps. On the island it’s just them, a creepy guy with an axe, and a giant lake monster who sinks boats in the lake and hunts people on land…
I didn’t expect that giant cliffhanger that has me needing book 4 right now!
Aside from the spookiness, there are no content concerns. Like the rest of the series, Deep Waters is perfect for brave 12 year old’s and up. Now I’m going to go sulk at the unexpected ending while impatiently waiting for the next book. The only thing I know for sure? Book four will be set in the summertime.