REVIEW: Little Darlings, Melanie Golding

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things. A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies. Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life. Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Although it does not work exceptionally well as a mystery/thriller (the inclusion of the police investigation and the ensuing point-of-view chapters felt more than a little distracting and superfluous to the main plot), in Little Darlings, Melanie Golding has managed to provide a truly fascinating portrayal of the challenges of early motherhood and the terrifying realities of postpartum depression and psychosis. Sleep-deprived and paranoid, the wanderings of the protagonist’s mind lend itself wonderfully to the fantasy-or-fiction guessing-game of magical realism and the folklore of Changelings. And, through presenting the conditions in such a way, it manages to create a terrifying reality that does not seem much different (except from a few nappy changes) from the slasher flick Nightmare on Elm Street. Because, when too little sleep blurs nightmare and reality, can you ever really trust your own mind?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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