Alex Ganon Reviews: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

March 23, 2019

Little Darlings
Melanie Golding
Horror, Mystery & Thrillers

Crooked Lane Books

April 30, 2019

 

It’s funny being a parent.


When I talk about the humour of it, I’m not referring to the many ridiculous moments that children bombard you with through their lives. Moments that crack you up even now as you remember all the
innocent stupid things they did or said.

 

No, I’m talking about the not so funny funny part where once you have them something deep changes inside. I’m not sure what it like for you, but for me it was like the flip of a switch.
 

I had my first when I was teenager. I tell you, on that day, I may as well have been 20 years older. Everything made sense. I started working, I planned a career. Everything I did was through the lens of a dad. I would provide. I would keep him safe. I would make sure that at every child's birthday party he attended, the gift he brought would be worth triple whatever anyone else's “regular-aged" parents paid.

 

OK.... well not every part of my brain was 20 years more mature.


Along with that change comes one that for me, and most others I assume, happens only at night.

 

The worry.

 

I spent a lot of time outside, so various situations involving predators and the elements would run through my imagination. I traveled for work, countless scenarios of what may happen while I was away kept me up.

 

Sickness, calamities—the possibilities were endless. Still, to this day, it staggers on.

 

Out of all the horrible things I could imagine, there was (and is) one scenario that terrifies me most. One so horrifying, my fingers now shake just at the thought.


It is this almost unmentionable nightmare to which the author of Little Darlings exposes me.

 

So I ponder, what if I had had twins.
 

Twins. The birth is where the story starts. I suppose this is the first nightmare. Many of us men have been told, in reference to this momentous day, to imagine passing a baseball through the um...urethra. I think of extreme pain and some major disfigurement.

 

Now imagining two objects of such caliber? 

 

I figure that must equal twice that plus probably death. Lauren Tranter handles it like a champ—I mean she doesn’t die. Husband Patrick is by her side doing what we do...just watching.
 

Lauren is required to stay a few extra nights due to her own health, nothing serious. On one of these nights she gets a visit. A wraith of a women threatens to switch Lauren's babies with her own. In a scene that easily resonates with a parent, Lauren fends off this freak and spends the first act of the story either in fear of her return or trying to convince those around her that it was real.
 

I will be fairly more vague than I normal am because I enjoyed this novel. My mind wasn’t blown or anything but there was a crispness to it. I recommend it so I can't go on to spoil it....
 

After Lauren’s encounter with the potential kidnapper, we are introduced to police officer, Jo Harper. Typical “play by her own rules" cop, to her supervisor's discontent. I guess I’m getting old because these types of characters, who I used to enjoy, now irritate me.

 

Policy and procedures are there for a reason for god's sake. Why can't we just see an efficient and effective operation?

 

Well, she is in Lauren's court, so I will accept her. Turns out Lauren ends up needing some people on her side by the second act.

 

Look it. I’m not saying dad's have it harder than mom's. I know without a doubt we have it easier.


Maybe it’s like when I get the same cold she had but it’s way worse for me? She says "stop being a baby. I just got over it and it wasn’t that bad." I reply with "your right, but I was thinking maybe you are more used to it than I am. I mean, you get sick every month."

 

I was wrong about that too. It was decided that yes, I was a baby, a few sentences later.


Patrick though did not have the same epiphanies I have had through his life and decides to let Lauren do all the work around the house. I mean he's got stuff to do, like a job and... what else...oh ya, infidelity.
 

I’ll be honest I dislike Patrick (and I’m meant too). If I had to do sleepless nights, i think every other dad should have to too,  just from spite alone. There is one scene where I do feel for him though. Another nightmare born of having twins—while mom is indisposed he finds himself in a situation where he loses track of who is who.

 

Shit. I don’t care who you are, unless you're blissfully ignorant, this is a real concern.

 

Identical twins! Dad's tired, mom is well...tired...possibly on drugs. Just like that Peter is Dave and Dave, Peter. Let that sink in with any twins reading this.
 

Anyway, one of the best things about Little Darlings is the not really knowing part. We end up being forced to wonder if Lauren is burdened heavily with extreme postpartum or is she being stalked by a Grimm style baby stealing fairy? (that means evil, fyi). Or does having twins risk a temporary bout of schizophrenia?
 

It's stated that this novel is soon to be a motion picture. I can understand why. It's neat and tidy right to the end. The flow is suiting for its genre. Probably not award-winning and why should it be? It’s fun and had me excited to reach the conclusion. Which isn't all that bad for a quick thrill in movie form.

 

A quick Google search told me it’s a movie about some girls at a summer camp made in the 80s, so I couldn’t confirm. I think my Google skills are suspect.
 

But if you have time to squeeze in a quick read I would suggest this one, you wont read it twice, but will thoroughly enjoy. Simple in a pleasant way. Simple has its place and is not to be meant as a negative by any means.

 

Simple shoes are easy to slip on, simple pants are comfy to lounge in. If you're a parent that can handle a little thrilling at the expense of babies, possibly by threat of an old style fairy tale villain, then lounge back with this book.


….You know the fairy tale stories I mean, right? The ones where children get thrown in an oven, the ones where a boy risks life and death way up high because he didn’t buy what he was told?

 

P.S. Can you imagine how hard life was back then? When the norm is telling kids, before they sleep, stories of death and trolls?

 

“Hey bud, life expectancy is like 30ish…honestly only about half your siblings will make it past adolescence, so you better get use to the thought of dying now...k?”
 

There’s no trolls in this book.


OK wait. I do need to ruin something. This guy actually cheats on his pregnant wife right, and there is no point in the story where Lauren and Patrick actually go head to head over it.

 

It’s in plain sight for us readers, but I don’t believe Lauren ever finds out! I’m not sure how I feel about this. Maybe this sub-conflict would have been just a distraction, a bump to the flow. Or maybe it would have made me even more empathetic to our protagonist. Who knows, you should read it and decide for yourself.
 

*** I’m done with ratings...it doesn’t work for me, I'll just say YES...there is something writers can learn from Melanie’s work here. Simple, structured, rhythm, comfy…hook's them with their genetic desire to protect their young… ***

 

Editor's Note: What the hell do you mean your done with ratings?! 

 

 

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