Thriller | 336 pages | 04.30.2019 | Harper Avenue
Little Darlings is a suspenseful narrative weaving in folklore and the paranormal. It is for sure a page-turner that keeps you guessing what is really going on. Lauren is a brand new mom of twin boys. She is convinced someone is trying to kidnap them, even trying to exchange them for some sinister changlings. The premise of this novel is immediately capturing, unfortunately, it falls flat in many aspects. Despite its intimate ties to some grimmer fairytales, the author struggles with seamlessly integrating their content. In fact, I thought on many occasions that the whole story could’ve worked without any mentions of river fairies or their attempts to swap out newborns. The protagonist, Lauren, is plenty unreliable on her own. We never know if she is delusional or if someone truly tried to take her babies. Another disappointment for me was the ending – it just left me feeling deflated. It was so anticlimactic that I was confused about whether or not I had missed a huge plot point somewhere along the way. I kept thinking “there has to be more, right?”. I also failed to care about most of the characters. Detective Harper had several of her own issues that should’ve been explored more. Her “relationship” with Amy, the journalist, was like an afterthought and added very little to the story. Lauren’s husband was sleazy and disgusting at the very least and hugely manipulative on his worst days. There was also NO solution to any of his indiscretions. Lauren herself was an ok protagonist but her personal struggles were incredibly relatable and earnest. And this is really where the author did her best work.
Golding tackled a very important issue – postpartum depression (PPD) – in a unique and smart way. Channeling it through an unreliable narrator in a setting of potential dark paranormal forces gave the novel some depth and made PPD accessible to a reader without any personal experience, like me. At times, I too had very visceral sensations as Lauren was going through her “breakdown”. I could understand her thought processes and I really felt for her. I am so glad we are starting to address some of our mental health issues in creative ways. I’d say this book could be a trigger for someone suffering from PPD but is definitely an interesting resource nonetheless. It sure allows bringing awareness to a topic that we often treat as hush-hush. I hope Golding will continue her writing journey along those lines and I will check out her next book.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.