Small Angels by Lauren Owen – Blog Tour Review!

As a teenager, Kate found a safe harbour from her parents’ constant fighting in the company of the four Gonne sisters, who lived with their strict grandparents next to Small Angels, a church on the edge of dense green woods. The first outsider to ever get close to the sisters, Kate eventually learned the family’s secret: The woods are home to a capricious, menacing ghost whom generations of Gonnes had been charged with stopping from venturing into the village itself. But as the sisters grew older, braver, and more independent, bucking against the family’s burden, the bulwark began to crack, culminating in a horrifying act of violence that drove a terrible wedge between the sisters and Kate.

Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church in the village where her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to hear unsettling stories about Small Angels–and worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real.

Now Kate is returning home for the first time in years, for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are coming alive again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, the most troubled of the sisters and her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself. An unforgettable novel about the memories that hold us back and those that show us the way forward–this is storytelling at its most magical. Enter Small Angels, if you dare. 

Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for month’s. Everything is set in place, including the venue, Small Angels, a little church in the village where Sam, her fiance, grew up. She doesn’t understand Sam’s reticence to get married there, nor the weirdness surrounding it when she arrives in town. But when she starts to hear unsettling stories set around her venue, and Mockbegger, the woods surrounding it, she sets out to put these rumours to rest. But some things are better left alone. Now strange things have started happening in the town again, things that Kate, Sam’s sister is sure are linked to the woods and the mysterious spirit who haunts it. To save the wedding and Chloe herself, Kate must re-connect with Lucia Gonne, the last of the family who ran Small Angels when Kate was a child, for the Gonnes are linked to the land in a way the other villagers aren’t. For long ago death stained the Gonne family and that death has haunted them for generations. Lucia Gonne will have to venture back into Mockbegger and find the spirit who haunts them all if she is to save her friends, the village and herself.

Small Angels is told from multiple POV’s but there are three main perspectives that span the majority of the story. Chloe, having not grown up in the village, is hesitant to believe the rumours surrounding Mockbegger. Child’s stores, fables, folktales, that’s all they must be. But she feels drawn to the woods, and once she enters knows she has made a grave mistake. Kate has faded memories of a summer spent with the Gonne sisters, sneaking into Mockbegger and telling the woods their stories. But there are things that linger on the edges of her memories, darker things, things that she tried to warn her brother about when he told here where they were planning to be wed. She is the only one of the villages to ever care what the Gonne family go through, to care for them, and also the only one who knows the true dangers of the woods and the spirit that lingers there. Lucia Gonne has always been trouble, at least if you ask her Grandma, thanks to being born in Mockbegger itself. She always had a strange affinity with the woods, it responded to her more than the rest of her family. She is headstrong and before long ends up tangled up, not only with the woods, but with the spirit who roams it.

The story reads like a creepy folktale. Told through flashbacks of Lucia & Kate’s youth that tell the story of how Lucia got entangled with the woods and help explain the situation today, and modern day POV’s from all three of our characters that show not only does the danger still exist, but the woods and the spirit are both getting stronger. I enjoyed the flashback chapters, seeing the Gonne girls brazenly walking the forest, telling it their stories and performing for it. Owen’s showed through them the naivete of childhood, how even though they were told to be scared of the woods, they held too much wonder for it to be as wary as they should be. And then seeing the switch to our character being adults, and the utter fear and respect they have for Mockbegger, coming to understand the real danger it poses.

If I had one sticking point, it would be the ending. It all just felt a little too easy to me. There were no real ramifications for the villages ignorance of Mockbegger, nor of the meddling both done in the past and present. I do feel that we learnt the identity of the ghost too early in the story for him to have any true menacing affect on us as the reader. It was definitely creepy, but his story and history made me empathise will him a little too much to truly be scared, which significantly lessened the horror element. So if you’re going into this expecting a hairs standing up on the back of your neck horror, I would slightly temper your expectations. It’s told more like a fable, a warning of the things unknown, and how just because you don’t acknowledge something doesn’t mean it’s not there, not dangerous, not waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Owens lush writing style and the way the story flits between past and present make it an easy read, and I will certainly be checking out Owens other works.

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