Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .
Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.
When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.
Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?
*I was sent a kindle edition of this book in exchange for an honest review, huge thanks to HQ for sending me a copy!*
This book was creepy, addictive and gripping in all the best ways. Little Darlings is inspired by various folk tales about changelings ie; human children who are taken away after birth with malevolent fairies left in their place. This merging of reality and fairy tale made for such an original story which is a real page turner. Perhaps it’s greatest skill, as it progressed is that you weren’t sure whether to believe Laurens story or assume – as many characters in the novel do – that she is having a psychological breakdown. Either theory seems plausible at different moments and it’s frightening to consider either option.
Given that I’m a fan of folk tales and creepy / horror stories in general, I feel like Little Darlings does a good job of incorporating just enough of this ‘horror’ aspect whilst still remaining firmly based in the real world. It takes every mothers worst nightmare; a threat to her newborns and turns it on it’s head. I’m familiar with tales of changelings and fairies spiriting people away so it was interesting to see it in this context and I liked that each chapter had an excerpt from various folktales, which just added to the sinister atmosphere.
As well as the storyline itself being compelling, Lauren as the narrator was also a good choice. Lauren has just given birth and it wasn’t exactly the easiest one, leaving her physically and mentally drained, with two newborns to think about. I found it sad but refreshingly realistic when she deals with the idea of not immediately being attached to her children the way other people seem to be. Postpartum depression or Psychosis is more openly discussed now so at first, Lauren wonders if this is what she is suffering from. I feel like this is an important representation of new motherhood and how different women can have different experiences and shouldn’t be shamed for something they cannot control. While there is more education and awareness about these disorders, there is still a taboo surrounding it. There are so many expectations placed on women in general, and especially mothers so I feel like readers who have been through similar experiences may resonate strongly with this element of the story.
The things I felt didn’t work as well were some of the side characters and storylines. Including Laurens husband Patrick, who I just really disliked as a character. He was aloof, secretive and just really indifferent to Laurens feelings which was super annoying. I also thought the inclusion of Jo Harper and the policing aspect was kind of dry and at times I felt like it could have been cut down, or the pace of the investigation picked up. I feel like this may be the start of a series featuring Jo Harper as the ending of Little Darlings leaves a few things open ended.
Overall, this was a unique and gripping read and I’m glad I read it. Although I’m unlikely to pick it up again, it was a solid one time read for me. I would recommend Little Darlings to readers who enjoy a good contemporary thriller with an original plot and an underlying message.
★★★ – 3 Star Rating
Until next time,