Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review: The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield

Release date: July 18th 2017
Publisher: Steel Rose Press
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back. 

But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit? 

Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Smallest Thing is a really good story. It had my attention locked from start. The writing is just wonderful, and the overall mystery regarding what was causing members of the village to fall sick, some dying soon after, had me intrigued.  

I liked that this was inspired by a real life event, one that I had no idea about until reading the blurb, but I'm glad the author was able to deliver the story in such a way that I actually felt like I was there in every moment, experiencing this devastation. 

What I also liked is how there were other aspects to the story and it wasn't just about the plague. Emmott's character, for instance, was coming-of-age and she wanted to get out into the world and live her life her way. She had these big plans and dreamed of leaving the village, as opposed to remaining "stuck" there like her father and ancestors. Emmott dreaded living under her father's strictness, which was understandable, because he often came off so hard and inconsiderate toward his daughter, many times saying things that hurt her feelings or made her feel ignored. Their relationship, or lack thereof, was definitely tense for the most part. In one particular scene, he yelled at Emmott for being with a certain character that I never liked from the get-go, but the way he handled it was so heartbreaking, especially as a father. I guess he didn't know better, and Emmott's mother wasn't exactly there either. She was another story all to herself and while some details were revealed about her and the marital issues with Emmott's father, I was okay with her not being in the village while everything was taking place because then too much would be going on. 

Going back to Emmott's character, I must say that I did find her to be selfish and impulsive at times, wanting to disregard rules and risk spreading the plague elsewhere, but then I would remind myself that this was a teen girl just starting to figure out her life, and had to quickly learn to cope in an adult way if she was going to be able to survive. Not sure how I'd fare in a similar situation but I feel like Emmott did her best, especially toward the end of the story. And I liked how in the midst of the plague and with the entire village being placed in quarantine, Emmott was able to bond with someone who genuinely cared for her, even if for every encounter an hazmat suit was always between them. I found that to be quite interesting in itself, and it offered a bit of sweetness in such a sad time. 

Again, great story with remarkable writing. And although the ending broke my heart, I almost expected that to happen and I'm okay with the way things turned out. This is my first time reading a book by Lisa Manterfield and I must say I'm impressed by her storytelling. I'll definitely be checking out her other releases.

Lisa ManterfieldAbout the Author
Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of A Strange Companion and I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. 

Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. 



  1. I love that the characters get significant attention, and not just the plague etc. I quite like the look of it, too - especially if the writing and storytelling are excellent. Although a tragic ending is always bittersweet!
    Thanks for the lovely review :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

  2. Wow. This sounds really good. Great review Shane :)

  3. I have never heard about the event this book is based on. It sounds like a really interesting story. Great writing never hurts either :)

    1. Yeah it was a learning experience. Made me look it up, and just reading about the actual event is quite sad. Hope you give this book a shot too.

  4. I have this one in my September TBR pile so I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it! I love good writing so that's definitely a plus for me, and that's awesome that it's not just about the plague. Great review!

    1. Hope you like the story when you get a chance to read it, Lauren :)

  5. This sounds like a great read. I like that the ending, while is expected, wasn't easy.


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