Book Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding (ARC)

You’ll never know the difference. I can make sure they look just the same. 

Little Darlings

Author: Melanie Golding

Publication Date: 30 Apr 2019

Genre: Adult – Thriller, Dark Folklore

Pages: 315

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

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 was initially drawn to this story because I can’t resist a good psychological thriller. However, this is not a psychological thriller in the traditional sense. It’s a disturbing story that borders on horror while also embracing supernatural elements from old folklore.  

The story begins with a rather graphic scene where a distraught Lauren Tranter undergoes complications while trying to give birth to her identical twin boys. Following the birth of her boys, Lauren is sleep deprived trying to take care of twin newborns without any assistance from the nursing staff or her husband. One evening in the bed next to hers, she is approached by a woman, who resembles death, offering to take swap one of her evil babies for one of Lauren’s newborns.

“Choose one,” said the woman “choose one or I’ll take them both. I’ll take yours and you take mine. I can make sure they look the same. One is fair. Two is justice done.”

When I initially read this scene, chills were running down my spine. The idea of a newborn, or any child for that matter, being replaced by something evil and possessed scares the living sh*t out of me! So creepy. Nope. Just nope.

Naturally, Lauren grabbed her twins, locked herself into the bathroom, and dialed the police to report an attempted abduction. DS Harper immediately reported to the scene even though Lauren’s case was reported to the psychiatric department as a sort of psychosis induced panic arising from sleep deprivation. DS Harper’s gut feeling of dread didn’t buy that Lauren was simply suffering from sleep deprivation, so she began her own investigation without the backing of her superiors.

Once Lauren was home with the boys and settled into a semi-normal routine, without ANY help from her husband who needs his uninterrupted sleep to be able to function at work, she was unable to shake her experience that she had with that woman. It consumes her every thought to the point where she does not leave her house in fear that her boys will be swapped for the evil twins.

Patrick finally convinces Lauren to meet up with her friends and their newborn babies, but the unthinkable happens. Lauren falls asleep and her children are abducted. When they are found, she is hysterical because they are changelings! Or are they? No one believes Lauren. Everyone thinks she’s had another psychotic episode.

Melanie’s debut novel is an ominous thriller wrought with heartbreak, despair, and uncertainty. Each page was even more chilling, but I couldn’t stop reading. Growing up, I was always warned about the haunting tales of my ancestors, but what happens when you start living the scary stories that you were always told about.  

Thank you to Bookish HQ and Crooked Lane Books for providing an ARC of this book. This did not bias my opinions of this book, which are entirely my own.

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