TITLE: Little Darlings
AUTHOR: Melanie golding
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Bookes
PUBLICATION DATE: 30th April 2019
MY RATING: 3.5/5
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.
Thoughts & Opinions
We all know that our experience of reading a book will always be unique and individual. How an author’s writing style appeals to us (or not), the way we feel about the story, and our ability to relate to the various characters are all dependent upon so many personal factors; our age, gender, family, life experiences etc. This individual subjectivity is one of my favourite things about reading, and yet I spent the vast majority of Little Darlings wondering if I was, in some way, wrong to interpret and experience the book in the way that I did.
The question that looms large throughout Little Darlings is whether Lauren’s twins have indeed been stolen by a mysterious faerie woman or whether it is all in her head. As a general sceptic of the supernatural and believing that there is always a rational explanation for everything in life, I personally found myself incredulous of Lauren’s claims and somewhat irritated by her growing frustration at the lack of support that she felt she was receiving. However, Lauren’s revulsion towards the children that she believes are not hers made me very aware of my position as someone without children of my own. I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be a parent and, as a man, I will never be able to truly appreciate the bond that exists between a mother and child. So, despite being highly sceptical of supernatural events, I found that I couldn’t be certain in my conviction that she had gone crazy. After all, her intense beliefs were fueled by something that I could never understand.* Golding’s writing also leaves enough plot points to make the answer to the question ambiguous and open to debate. The weaving of the supernatural into the story of Lauren’s apparent descent into madness is subtle but very effective. The epigraphs that precede many of the chapters provide vague hints as to the supernatural events that Lauren may or may not be dealing with, and I found that these epigraphs acted as stimulus for my own imagination while also clouding what I would consider to be my better judgement.
Did I believe that Lauren’s children had been abducted, or was she just going crazy? Well, as the psychiatrist at the end of the novel explains, “Obviously, the only way we can understand what’s happening with you is if you tell us. It’s an issue of trust. Trust takes a long time to build, I’m afraid”. I’ve had 30+ years to get to know and trust my instincts, but just a few hours to get to know Lauren Tranter. So I may not share her belief that she had to save her babies from abduction, but her experience certainly forced me to re-evaluate my perception of other people’s state of mind. And for that I am grateful.
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
*As I expressed in the review, there are certain aspects of the book that I struggled with understanding. Perhaps my biggest question is about whether post-natal depression plays a role in Lauren’s story or not. It is a subject I am aware of but know little about. I would be interested to get some feedback from anyone who has read the book and has an opinion this connection. Thanks