Review: Small Places by Matthew Samuels (SPFBO Entry)

Review: 7.75/10


Jamie is a lonely, anxious kid when he has a run-in with a witch in a remote Somerset village. He’s almost forgotten about it thirteen years later when unpredictable storms and earthquakes hit England – and that’s the least of his worries. Suffering from anxiety, terrible flatmates and returning to his family home after his mother is diagnosed with cancer, he’s got a lot on his mind. But Melusine, the witch of flesh and blood, lures him back with the offer of cold, hard cash in exchange for his help investigating the source of the freak weather; something’s messing with the earth spirit, Gaia, and Mel means to find out who – or what – it is. As they work together, travelling to the bigoted Seelie Court and the paranoid Unseelie Court, meeting stoned fauns and beer-brewing trolls, Jamie must reconcile his feelings about the witch’s intentions and methods all while handling grief, life admin and one singularly uptight estate agent.


“They’re inside faery magic, in what is best described as a small place. A place between places.”

Small Places is one of the books that FanFiAddict has been allocated for our SPFBO judging. This review is solely my opinion only and doesn’t represent the feelings of our team as a whole.

I was really charmed by this book! I thought it was so cozy and easy to settle into. I’ve read Samuels’ YA book, Parasites, and you can definitely see the way he has cultivated his writing since then. Parasites was a YA Sci-Fi book and Small Places falls under the adult category. What I like about it is that it is definitely suitable for people that are looking to dip their toes into the adult fantasy category. It’s more adult in content but not graphic enough to turn stomachs. The humor is cheeky and tasteful, I found myself chuckling aloud often.

“‘Buying drugs? No, never,’ she says, turning back to the kettle, pouring boiling water into a mug and flicking a teabag into the back room. She hands me the mug. ‘I was selling them. It’s amazing what you people will buy online.'”

This will take you back to the mystical books that first made you love fantasy settings; a magical door leading to a witch, the adventure of a lifetime, and mischievous creatures. I loved the different courts, the wild fauns, and drunken trolls. Instead of the usual sword as a weapon, Jamie has a pair of guns with various charmed bullets. This was a nice change of pace from the usual dark fantasy that I’ve been reading. Even though our main character’s mother is struggling with cancer and there’s grief throughout the novel, it still had a light tone. I found this to be such an easy and quick paced read. I don’t think it will be for every fantasy reader because some people are looking for more complexity or darker themes, but I enjoyed it.

The book is wrapped up nicely but right at the end, Samuels throws us a twist. He leaves it open for the reader to ponder this revelation, but there’s definitely room for a sequel if he so chooses. Super happy I had the opportunity to read this cozy book, stay tuned for an interview with Matthew Samuels.

“Get a handle on, Jamie, I think to myself. You’ve got weird shit to do.”

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