HE TWINS ARE CRYING. THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.
LAUREN IS CRYING.LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.
Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .
After a traumatic birth, Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her newborn twins. Her husband has gone home. The nurses are doing their rounds. She can’t stop thinking about every danger her babies now face. But all new mothers think like that. Don’t they?
A terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves Lauren convinced someone or something is trying to steal her children. But with every step she takes to keep her babies safe, Lauren sinks deeper and deeper into paranoia and fear. From the stark loneliness of returning home after birth, to the confines of a psychiatric unit, Lauren’s desperation increases as no one will listen to her. But here’s the question: is she mad, or does she know something we don’t?
Loosely inspired by the ghostly folktale The Brewery of Eggshells, where a mother becomes convinced her twins are in danger, Little Darlings offers a fresh perspective on modern motherhood, postnatal psychosis and the roles women play. It has always been thus: folk tales do not spring from whimsy; they warn us and teach us, and speak to the fear in us all.
How could I NOT lust after this novel?! Clare Mackintosh, one of my favourite authors, declares that Little Darlings is stunning: “chilling story, beautiful prose”. It’s also been described as Leila Slimani’s Lullaby (which I found deliciously creepy) meets Rosemary’s Baby (one of my all-time favourites). So when I saw it on NetGalley, I had to have it!
The story starts with Lauren and Patrick, about to become parents for the first time, of twins no less. We soon witness the boys’ birth – warning: some of those scenes made my entire reproductive system go on lock-down, I swear I felt my ovaries cringe and hide! Although I found it interesting enough, at that moment I wasn’t captivated by the story yet. In all fairness, I think this has less to do with the actual story and more with me not being a mother myself. I felt Lauren’s emotions – Melanie Golding is quite good at making you empathise with her characters – but I’m sure a parent will feel it much deeper than I ever could.
As the story continues, Lauren struggles, Patrick’s pretty useless, and the situation goes from bad to worse until it all spirals out of control when Lauren dozes off and loses sight of her boys. Before long, they’re back with their mother, and luckily, they’re completely fine! Or are they? Nobody seems to notice anything weird about the boys, but Lauren does. She, the only one who can even tell them apart, is sure that neither baby is her own. And mother always knows best, doesn’t she? But then why won’t anyone believe her? My heart broke for Lauren at this point. That was the moment when I realised that the story had completely sucked me in and I was totally invested and I HAD TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Melanie Golding does a mighty fine job here, hinting, muddying the waters, playing with the duality of emotions versus reason and imagination versus reality, and how on earth does a little old lady with Alzheimer’s fit into this jigsaw puzzle?! Not only could I not figure out which way the story was heading, I couldn’t even decide which way I wanted it to go 🙂 One thing’s for sure though: it was a fun ride getting there!
Highly recommended for lovers of the changelings lore and / or psychological thrillers with a sprinkling of the supernatural, especially if you like strong female characters and creepy babies.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.