Monday, April 29, 2019

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little Darlings
Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
Crooked Lane Books
Publication: April 30th, 2019
Hardcover. 304 pages.

About Little Darlings:

"“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

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 our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe."

Little Darlings is dark, atmospheric, and more than a little creepy. I've been seeing it marketed more towards the thriller genre and although it does have some suspenseful and thriller-like aspects, I'm not sure that's an entirely accurate description. The writing leans much heavier in the literary and folklore realm than a traditional thriller and the pacing is also a bit steadier than a fast-paced thriller. However, since plot development is crucial to the story, I'll be keeping this review on the shorter and less detailed side of things so as not to give too much of anything away.

We start out following Lauren's POV as she adjusts after just having given birth to two twins, an experience that was not nearly as seamless as she had hoped for and instead leaves her with some trauma she doesn't know how to deal with. As the novel progresses and more exciting events occur, we also obtain the POV of Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper who takes an unexpected interest in the potential abduction of her twins that Lauren initially reports to the police. I found having the perspectives of both Lauren and Joanna vital in creating the suspense around what exactly is happening. Since we have Lauren's perspective, we are able to follow along firsthand with what's happening and experience exactly what Lauren sees. The benefit of Harper's perspective allows us to see things from the outside view, in which Lauren's claims do sound rather far-fetched at times and it becomes difficult to determine fact from fiction.

Lauren herself is a very sympathetic and relatable character. Her pain and struggle to adapt to new motherhood, including her struggle to take care of her of herself and her twins while her husband slacks, is something that feels very real and really stood out to me and drew me in.  I really felt for Lauren and also ended up feeling as frustrated as she did when no one believed her--and even when she starts to doubt herself. Similarly, Detective Harper's challenge to pursue her gut instincts that contradict her boss's rules and plans makes her another compelling character that I appreciated following. Both women have extremely different roles in this book, but Golding crafts them each in a way that gives them a distinct personality and a steady, realistic motivation for acting in the ways that they do.

Little Darlings book touches on more than a few themes covering motherhood, mental health issues, deception, and pain. This is a haunting little book with a compelling story that I really enjoyed. It felt like a quick read, and looking back on it I sometimes wonder what even happened in the book. It's a rather quiet story with a mixture of subtly important moments and overtly important moments. As I mentioned before, this isn't as much of a thriller to me as it is a dark literary work inspired by folklore elements. It's much more an exploration of mental health trauma and postpartum struggles, which it does extremely well. Because of this, however, I found it not quite as compelling as it could have been and it often seemed as though there was something missing. Despite this, the story itself and the themes explored are extremely important and make this a worthwhile read.

As a word of caution, if you're sensitive to children in danger, traumatic childbirth scenarios, or anything involving children, really, then keep in mind that this plays with those element quite a bit--it is a story centered around changelings, after all. 

Overall, I've given Little Darlings four stars! If you enjoy changelings, dark atmospheric novels, or folkore-inspired stories, then definitely give this one a shot!

*I received a copy of Little Darlings in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound


  1. YASSS!! I cannot wait to give this one a read! Awesome review!

  2. I loved this book. My review should be coming out this week. Its funny you mention genre on this one. I had a hard time really pinpointing what this would fall under. It has so many elements. It was a so dark and creepy. I really loved it. Great review.