Even if no one believes her, Lauren Tranter knows what she saw. It started with that awful woman. Dazed after a complicated birth, Lauren fought her off when she attempted to swap her twins with her own odd pair. Everyone tells her she imagined it, but then why does she keep seeing the woman lurking outside her house? Months later, after a rare trip to the park, she loses sight of the twins. When they’re finally located, she knows they’re not the same. They’ve been switched. And now Lauren will do anything to get her babies back. Unless … unless she’s wrong about everything.
There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than not being believed, and author Melanie Golding explores this with aplomb. Lauren believes what she saw, and Golding draws the reader into her world. And yes, she might be exhausted after giving birth, but it makes sense that a macabre woman broke into her hospital room— why is this so hard for everyone else to believe? And yet she then manages to flip everything on its head and that’s where this book finds it’s bite.
Golding frames the story almost like a police procedural, focusing scenes not just on Lauren, but also Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper, a solid detective with an independent streak. It’s a genius move. Shouldn’t the authorities, of all people, be able to solve a mystery? Joanna serves as the logical side of the investigation, tracking down clues and combating her own personal issues. She grounds the story, giving readers something to latch onto, while Lauren spirals into a battle with herself and the supernatural.
And this book certainly has a fantastical bent. Golding weaves in rich folklore, drawing from changeling stories, and the result is a real world being intruded on by the unexplainable. Each chapter produces more questions while Lauren struggles with mothering two beings she doesn’t believe to be hers. It’s incredibly effective, and often heartbreaking.
Chilling and highly readable, Lauren Golding has crafted a novel that straddles genres. Whether readers believe the magical or the psychological, one thing is for certain: this story should come with a warning— “Caution: Book’s spine might snap under all this tension.”
Title: Little Darlings
Author: Melanie Golding
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.