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Small Spaces

2019 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

Small Spaces is a debut novel, a fast-paced, tightly crafted psychological narrative that is hard to put down. When she was eight years old, Tash’s imaginary friend Sparrow became a real-life nightmare. Nine years later, Sparrow returns and the dark games continue. This is a refreshing, rollercoaster thriller that blurs the lines between truth and fiction and keeps you guessing until the end. Epstein has created great characters, an authentic Australian small-town setting and grapples well with the idea of a family returning to a community that they’d left years earlier after a traumatic event. 

The novel’s structure offers a carefully constructed nonlinear narrative which juxtaposes present tense with childhood psychiatric transcripts, following an abduction which triggers much of the story. We are given parallel timelines that merge beautifully. It is here that Small Spaces works so wonderfully, the novel moving to a compelling and very satisfying resolution.