by Melanie Golding
Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date : April 30, 2019
Pages : 304
Synopsis From Publisher:
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.
I love a good ghost story, but I usually prefer my crime fiction books without mystical elements. For this reason I was a little hesitant to read Little Darlings. As I got further along into the story, I was surprised that I was loving it and could not stop reading. With a malevolent tone, creepy folklore, and a detailed police investigation; Little Darlings is a demented, dark, and creepy tale of a mother fighting to save her children.
When Lauren gives birth to twin boys, she and her husband Patrick are elated. The birth of the twins, Riley and Morgan, was difficult but Lauren is on the mend. One night a woman attempts to kidnap the twins from the maternity ward. Lauren is able to stop the abduction by calling the police, but when the police arrive there is no evidence of any unauthorized person being in the ward. Lauren’s claims are chalked up to the hallucinations of an exhausted new mother. Events follow of both a human and mystical nature which push Lauren to the point of no return.
At the beginning of most chapters in Little Darlings, there is an excerpt from a poem or a fairy tale. These poems and fairy tales depict mothers who harm their children and children who are taken by monsters or fairies. These excerpts gave the Little Darlings an element of horror/supernatural. I usually do not care for stories of the supernatural but without this element I am not sure I would have enjoyed Little Darlings as much as I did.
I have always believed there is a little bit of truth in all fairy tales and legends. Over the years, facts become exaggerated but I believe these stories have some truth at their core. Throughout the story Lauren’s claims are discounted and ignored but I always leaned towards believing Lauren. For some readers Lauren will come across as an over tired and unstable woman. Lauren may have been tired and maybe even traumatized by a difficult birth but I always thought she was credible. For me it was the fairy tales that made me believe the unreliable character.
In addition to being a story of psychological suspense, with a touch of horror; Little Darlings is also a police procedural. Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper is not assigned to the attempted kidnapping of Riley and Morgan; but something about Lauren’s story bothers Joanna. In spite of all the evidence disproving Lauren’s account and against orders from her superior officer, Joanna begins an investigation of her own. Joanna is one of the reasons why I believed someone did attempt to abduct Riley and Morgan.
Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper is a risk taker and follows her instincts no matter where they lead her. Joanna believes she will not advance any higher in the police department but she is fine in her current position. She likes investigating crimes and does not want to be weighed down with the administrative work associated with higher ranking positions. Because she believes her chances for advancement are limited she is willing to operate outside of the rules; making questionable choices and sometimes ignoring orders from her superior officer. Joanna brings a sense of logic and balance to Lauren’s story. She acts as liaison between the facts of the case and what Lauren says happened. In most stories I have read of the supernatural, this balance is lacking therefore making the story unbelievable. This is what sets Little Darlings apart from other occult tales.
Although Little Darlings was bit out of my comfort zone, I really enjoyed it. The story reminded me of a Stephen King novel with a touch of Clare Macintosh. Goldings’ writing was clear, with great pacing and vivid descriptions. Several hot topics are addressed in Little Darlings; work life balance, postpartum depression, and the mental health system. Goldings addresses each of these issues with sensitivity and tact. For those who like their crime fiction with a mystic twist, Little Darlings should be on your list of must reads.
Murder and Moore Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
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