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Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
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Little Darlings is the debut novel by Melanie Golding. Just released by HQ Stories, it is described as ‘unsettling, taut and tense. The most addictive and haunting debut of 2019.’ Melanie Golding is a full-time registered childminder, when she’s not writing, and her experiences with babies lends a very credible edge to this chilling tale. I went into this book relatively blind but, after a few chapters in, goosebumps were up and the tingle went down my spine. As a mother I was a little bit spooked….why?

Lauren suffered a very traumatic labour, eventually giving birth to twin boys. Lauren is understandably shattered, exhausted from the pain and the enormity of what she has just been through. Like many new mothers, Lauren is concerned that she is not immediately experiencing an emotional attachment to her new babies, thinking that there is something amiss, something lacking. After her husband, Patrick, leaves her alone, on her first night in hospital with her newborns, Lauren is aware of the various sounds of the ward when darkness falls. As she is about to lose herself in a moment of slumber, a long awaited moment of peace and tranquility, her babies begin to move, initially with a whimper and then a cry. Time soon loses any meaning for Lauren as the night continues with the feeding of her two babies.

In the still of the night, Lauren suddenly hears cooing noises on the other side of the curtain. On closer inspection it appears to be quite a disheveled woman with her own small babies but Lauren soon finds herself in a panic, frightened for the safety of her children as it becomes clear to her that this person is a very menacing presence, someone who means her babies harm. Lauren calls for help, shaking with fear, now locked into the bathroom, calling 999 in a panic. But when hospital security arrive, it is all dismissed as the psychosis of a new mother, with sleep deprivation and trauma cited as the reasons. Lauren’s 999 call is posted as a false alarm and she is placed under the umbrella of the hospital’s mental health department.

Lauren is convinced something or someone is after her babies. Paranoia sweeps in and Lauren refuses to leave her home. Patrick, her husband, loses patience and is quite dismissive with Lauren, encouraging her to get dressed, to leave the house, to meet friends for coffee but Lauren still sees this woman in the shadows and is agitated and frustrated that no-one believes her.

DS Joanna Harper picks up on Lauren’s case and is not quite so ready to dismiss the alleged abduction attempt of these two babies. Joanna Harper has her own personal reasons for having an interest in this case, but as she delves deeper she makes some rather unsettling discoveries. Is Lauren telling the truth or is it all a figment of her imagination, that of a woman possibly suffering from postnatal psychosis?

Melanie Golding has written a novel that has the disturbing quality of one of Grimm’s fairy-tales. There is an underlying sense of menace and evil across the chapters which just gets under your skin. Lauren is a mother who is trying to keep her children safe. Her family and friends are concerned for her well-being, with her actions being pigeon-holed as that of a woman whose mental state is under stress. Joanna Harper is Lauren’s only ally but at times Joanna is torn between the facts and the unknown…the unseen.

Little Darlings has already been optioned for screen and I can totally see why. The atmosphere, the darkness, the sense of fear will all transfer excellently to the big screen. It is an incredible accomplishment for a debut novel to reach such heights and a credit to the writing of Melanie Golding. Little Darlings is a disquieting read with an ominous and ghostly feel to it. It explores many themes associated with motherhood and the strength of that bond between mother and baby, raising some very important issues for society and how we deal with postnatal psychosis.

Little Darlings is sinister, threatening and chilling, yet also fascinating and captivating. I recommend…..

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.