Small Spaces

“We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.”

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

YA Psychological Thriller
Ages 14+ | 384 pages

ISBN: 9781921977381
Publisher: Walker Books

Small Spaces Discussion Guide

• Winner YA Fiction Award, Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature 2020
• Winner of the Davitt Award for Best Young Adult Crime Novel 2019
• Honour Book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2019
• Shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2019
• Shortlisted in the Queensland Literary Awards 2019
• Shortlisted in the Australian Book Industry Awards 2019
• Shortlisted in the Aurealis Awards 2018
• Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2018
• Shortlisted for the Davitt Awards Best Debut Crime Book 2019
• Longlisted in the Indie Book Awards 2019

SMALL SPACES has been optioned for film by Triptych Pictures.

A Note from the Author

Dear Reader,

Small Spaces began as a very loose idea about the appearance of children’s imaginary friends. I’ve always had a fascination with the subject, even though I never had an imaginary friend myself. When my kids were little and attending playgroup and kindergarten, I’d hear stories from mothers about how they’d overheard their child’s one-sided conversations in the bath, or how their child’s invisible friend had to have a place set at the dinner table. I’d always think, where do these imaginary friends come from? Are they tied to emotional issues, loneliness or just boredom? Are they coping mechanisms, a cry for attention, or even, as some suggest, a spiritual presence that a child’s mind is open enough to see?

This led me to ponder the family dynamics in a situation where a child is visited by an imaginary friend, resulting in erratic and disturbing behaviour. Would the adults in her life intervene or just wait it out? And what would happen if the imaginary friend reappeared years later, throwing the now-teenager and her family into turmoil again?

I realised at the core of such a story would be a character who is desperate to win the trust of others when she isn’t even sure she trusts herself. I wanted to explore the underlying theme about our basic desire to be heard and believed by those we trust most, as well as our sometimes fragile ability to believe in ourselves.

From this, two characters were born: a girl called Tash, and her imaginary friend Sparrow. I didn’t yet know how Tash’s life would be affected by Sparrow’s existence, but exploring that idea became the story of Small Spaces.

I hope you enjoy it!

– Sarah Epstein

“This stunning YA psychological thriller will set hearts racing and even have adults searching for silhouettes in the dark. Wow.”

The Herald Sun

“Small Spaces is a clever, highly entertaining read and an impressive debut from a thoughtful writer who knows how to weave contemporary concerns of mental illness through a story with stampede intensity.”

Better Reading

“This spine-tingling, shiver inducing psychological thriller is one of the most impressive YA debuts I’ve read in ages. With its twisty-turny plot, super-creepy atmosphere and deeply relatable characters, Small Spaces is impossible to put down and a legitimate threat to any reader’s peace of mind.”


Small Spaces is good, terrifying fun and I highly recommend it for all brave souls 14+ who love reading.”


“Small Spaces is a fast-paced, tightly crafted psychological narrative that is hard to put down. This is a refreshing, rollercoaster thriller that blurs the lines between truth and fiction and keeps you guessing until the end.”

Judges’ comments, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

As debuts go, this one is stunning. It is a clever story, superbly told. Epstein has shown a classy hand with a psychological thriller that lives up to the cliche of being hard to put down.”

“A beautifully crafted psychological thriller. I couldn’t put it down.”

Fleur Ferris, YA Author

Small Spaces is a deliciously creepy YA thriller that reeled me in, made my heart race and kept me guessing to the very end.”

Rachael Craw, YA Author

“This gripping debut messes with your head and makes you doubt your own senses. With Small Spaces, Sarah Epstein smashes it out of the park.”

Ellie Marney, YA Author


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Polish Edition
Ages 14+ | 400 pages

ISBN: 9788381542371
Publisher: Zielona Sowa

To nie my wybieramy, czego mamy się bać. To strach wybiera nas.

Tash Carmody przeżyła traumę – jako dziecko była świadkiem porwania swojej koleżanki Mallory Fisher przez budzącego grozę, wyimaginowanego Wróbla. Nikt nie uwierzył Tash w historię o porwaniu i dziewczynka została zmuszona zaakceptować fakt, że go wymyśliła. Mallory zaginęła na tydzień. Teraz ma piętnaście lat i od czasu porwania nie odezwała się ani słowem.

Gdy po latach niepokojące wspomnienia powracają, siedemnastoletnia Tash znów widuje Wróbla. Zdaje sobie sprawę, że jedyną osobą, która może jej pomóc rozwikłać mroczny sekret, jest sama Mallory. Czy Wróbel jest prawdziwy? A może Tash jest bardziej niebezpieczna dla innych, niż jej samej się wydaje?

Wciągający thriller psychologiczny, w którym mroczne urojenia mieszają się z prawdą w próbie zrekonstruowania przeszłości.

Order Polish paperbacks from:
Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa | The Book Depository

Order Polish e-books from:
Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa | Apple Books