Title: Little Darlings
Author: Melanie Golding
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: April 30th, 2019
*ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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.
“Look at someone every day for long enough and you stop seeing what everyone else sees. You start to see what no one else sees, what is kept hidden from most people.”
This book was creepy and well-written, but didn’t have me frantically turning pages in the way other books in the genre have. There were certain parts that I liked and other parts that I found myself skimming over the words.
In the beginning, Lauren Tranter has given birth to twin boys. Overtired and overwhelmed in the maternity ward, she sees a mysterious woman with monstrous twins of her own who attempts to steal her babies. Lauren locks herself in the bathroom and calls the police, but her claims are dismissed as mere post-partum exhaustion. Though no one—not even her husband—believes her, Lauren is convinced that the woman will return for her children. Her fears become her worst nightmare when she wakes up to find that her twins have been taken. When they are found by Detective Sergeant Jo Harper, Lauren is convinced that they are not her babies and attempts to throw them into the river, earning her a room in a mental institution. While Harper continues to investigate the case, Lauren plots a way to escape the institution and find her real children.
I expected Little Darlings to be creepier with more of a dark fairy tale vibe, but much of this book was a police procedural. I found these scenes to be the least interesting and wish there had been more of the horror scenes that sucked me in.
There are two perspectives in this book: Lauren Tranter, whose sanity is questionable and her narration unreliable, and Jo Harper, who feels deeply connected to the case and seeks to find the truth. Other major characters include Amy, a flirtatious journalist who assists Harper with her investigation, and Patrick, Lauren’s grade-A asshole husband. From the beginning, Patrick refuses to assist Lauren with the twins due to his archaic ideas of how women should be solely responsible for caring for their children. He also firmly believes that his wife is mentally unstable, and uses this fact to mask some secrets of his own.
This book wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, but I think Lauren’s fears and struggles will resonate with mothers or expecting mothers. But be warned: the depiction of traumatic birth, post-partum depression, struggles with child-rearing, and a useless husband is enough to terrify me out of wanting children of my own anytime soon.