Released: April 2019
Publisher: Harper Collins
“The child is not mine as the first was,
I cannot sing it to rest,
I cannot lift it up fatherly
And bliss it upon my breast;
Yet it lies in my little one’s cradle
And sits in my little one’s chair,
And the light of the heaven she’s gone to
Transfigures its golden hair.”
From “The Changeling” by James Russell Lowell
Lauren Tranter has just given birth to twins. It was a difficult labor and she doesn’t feel the magical glow she was promised motherhood would bring. She just feels tired.
Once home with her babies, things don’t get easier. The twins never stop crying, never stop wanting. While the other moms from her birthing class are able to get dressed, put makeup on, and leave the house, Lauren can barely manage to get out of bed.
Eventually she forces herself to take the babies for a walk, but has to sit down after a short time when the exhaustion overcomes her. Jolted awake several minutes later, she realizes her babies are gone.
After a harrowing few hours, the twins are found unhurt nearby. Yet when Lauren goes to hold them she’s stopped in her tracks. Despite what everyone keeps telling her, they aren’t her babies.
I do most my reading at night in bed hoping to read myself to sleep. This thoroughly engaging but also thoroughly haunting book was probably not the best choice for late night reading in the dark. I stayed up till the early hours of the morning reading Little Darlings, too freaked out to sleep but too engrossed to stop reading. I was sent this as an ARC several months ago from the publisher and I’m still shook. Like another reviewer said, “You can’t unread it.”
From the author’s introduction to the satisfying yet disturbing end, I was utterly enthralled with Melanie Golding’s modern take on folklore. I’ve read a lot of books with myth in them but except for YA and fantasy I can’t think of many that take place in the present “non-magical” world like this.
Which brings up an interesting thought- fairytale and folklore were accepted truths in the not so distant past but in today’s “modern” thinking world, things like fairies and changelings have no place. Yet does that mean they don’t still exist?
This book was an incredible blend of fantastical and everyday life horrors. Our poor new mother of twins was being bombarded on all fronts from dangers outside, in her head, and in her home. It shook me to my core on so many levels.
As a personal side note, the night I started reading this my husband and I had broached the subject of having kids, something I’ve always been wary of. After the first few chapters of Little Darlings that dealt with the traumatic birth followed by post-partum depression and the general uselessness of her awful husband, I’m not only terrified of changelings but also kind of terrified of having a kid. I think I might have to hold off for a few more months before having the kids discussion again.