Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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“She’d been deconstructed by nature, and then by man, then nature again, and finally by man…”

 

Melanie Golding debuts with a hauntingly frightful delight of a novel that seamlessly weaves the supernatural, the fairytale with the mundane nature of everyday life. At its core, Little Darlings is a novel about a mother struggling with being a mother then realising her twin sons are changelings.

Or are they?

 

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is a soon-to-be motion picture, and its synopsis is as follows:

“’Mother knows best’ takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.

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

 

I honestly have no words to perfectly articulate how much I enjoyed reading Melanie Golding’s debut novel, Little Darlings. I have been searching for a horror/thriller that really, truly terrifies me; and I found it. Little Darlings depicts the chilling tale of Lauren Tranter, a new mother of twins, whose birth into this world was not the easiest of paths, but is it ever? After an agonising night in which Lauren was absolutely sure a ghastly, ghoul-like woman tried to take her twins and replace them with her own eel-like shapeshifter children, Lauren was pronounced as having a mental breakdown. What follows is an incredibly harrowing and confusing journey, with Lauren at the centre of a Changeling-esque narrative. The plot itself was woven quite intricately, but I found the language to be quite simple, also seen with the structuring of paragraphs and dialogue. I felt that this may have ben deliberate in the sense that it ensures that the novel is accessible to a wide-ranging audience as well as engaging.

The narrative, though from two main perspectives, was centrally from Lauren’s own perspective and she is thus positioned as an unreliable narrator. The reader wondering what is truth and what is the imaginings of a woman ‘labelled’ by her husband, friends and doctors as struggling with severe post-natal depression and a possible mental breakdown with hallucinations. The mystery element also, investigated by the female lead detective Jo Harper who works to investigate whether Lauren’s accusations are real, don’t do much for the reader to truly understand whether Lauren is ‘making things up’ as a result of hallucinations and her own mental instability, based on actual fact, or this ambiguous mention of supernatural forces.

We don’t know, at all.

What I feel made Little Darlings a four-and-a-half-star book and not a five-star book was the ending. I found it incredibly anti-climactic and ambiguous. I would categorise it more as open-ended, and I’m not too sure if it’s meant to be for a reason, such as a sequel, but I felt that Lauren deserved so much more, and her husband should have suffered just a little. But nothing of the sort occurred. However, I do highly recommend this book because it gave me nightmares, which didn’t happen when I read the Exorcist, so this book will not disappoint.

 

About the Author:

Melanie Golding is a graduate of the MA in creative writing program at Bath Spa University, with distinction. She has been employed in many occupations including farm hand, factory worker, childminder and music teacher. Throughout all this, because and in spite of it, there was always the writing. In recent years she has won and been shortlisted in several local and national short story competitions. Little Darlings is her first novel, and has been optioned for screen by Free Range Films, the team behind the adaptation of My Cousin Rachel.

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