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Little Darlings

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“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

312 pages, Hardcover

First published April 30, 2019

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About the author

Melanie Golding

3 books683 followers
Melanie Golding grew up in Leicestershire, UK. Her first novel, Little Darlings, which has been optioned for screen by Free Range Films, became an e-book bestseller and won the DragonCon award for Best Horror Novel 2019. Her second novel The Hidden, (titled The Replacement in the UK), was a B&N monthly pick in March 2023. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University which examines the use of folklore in contemporary thrillers. You can find more on facebook, twitter @mk_golding, instagram @melaniegoldingauthor and tiktok @melaniegoldingauthor

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,663 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
May 1, 2019
How could her brain conjure something that seemed so real, something laden with so much horrifying detail, and yet there be nothing at all?

This book is seriously creepy, creative and sad. I think it's a bit misleading that it has found its way to the mystery/thriller section when it is mostly a contemporary with elements (or suggestions) of magical realism. But either way, it's a moving, frightening, psychological portrait of new motherhood, set in the Peak District.

Little Darlings is inspired by the Welsh fairy tale A Brewery of Eggshells, about a woman with newborn twins who are swapped with changelings. Lauren Tranter has just given birth to two beautiful twin boys who quickly become her whole world. When a disheveled woman appears on the maternity ward and threatens to swap them with her own sons, she is rightfully terrified and will do anything to protect her babies.

Lauren is tired and stressed like all new mothers, but she knows the woman is real. Even though the doctors and the police and her husband keep telling her that she is seeing things, that she needs help, she knows the truth. When her babies go missing one day, a frantic search begins and they are quickly found, seemingly unharmed. But Lauren knows the truth about that, too - these babies are not the children she lost.

Everyone wants to dismiss her as mentally ill except Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper, who has her own reasons for believing Lauren. Against the wishes of her superiors, Harper opens her own investigation into what really happened.

I think the police procedural aspects are the weakest part of the novel. Little Darlings is at its strongest when hovering somewhere between a portrait of postpartum depression and a dark, sinister fairy tale. I can speak from experience when I say depression can be terrifying. And just like in this novel, you can never quite be sure what is a legitimate feeling and what is an exaggerated response brought on by your mental state; these two often overlap.

After the birth of my first child, I found myself crying uncontrollably. I was exhausted, confused and afraid of absolutely everything. On top of the hormonal crash that comes after giving birth, for most people there's also the pure terror of being wholly responsible for someone else's wellbeing for the first time in your life. Unless you were previously a carer, the emotional shift that comes with knowing the responsibility falls entirely on you changes you beyond belief.

I think this book captures all that. Maybe the woman is real and this is a dark fairy tale, and maybe she is not and this is just a book about a woman struggling with mental illness. But it actually doesn't matter that much. The fear - of getting it wrong, messing up, of losing your baby, of not being a good mother - all of that is very real either way. I found it highly effective.

CW: Depression.

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Profile Image for Maureen .
1,444 reviews7,062 followers
December 2, 2018
Oh boy, this was one scary scenario. With echoes of Grimms Fairy Tales, ‘Little Darlings’ will probably give you sleepless nights along with the protagonist!

It’s the wee small hours of the morning on the maternity ward, and even though she’s exhausted, Lauren Tranter lies awake, already worrying about the responsibility of looking after her newborn twins Riley and Morgan - like any new mum she has concerns about her new role in life, keeping these little ones safe and well. Little does she know that her role as guardian will be challenged that very night, when she encounters a dirty, smelly disheveled woman who attempts to steal her babies. Lauren is convinced that she wasn’t dreaming, and slowly but surely she enters a nightmare world where she tries to impress on those around her that her children are in danger, but no-one believes her, not even her husband Patrick.

After a panicked phone call from Lauren to the police reporting the attempted abduction, hospital security guards are soon on the scene, but find Lauren locked in the bathroom with her babies and no sign of an intruder. She couldn’t have imagined it could she?

Eventually the case comes to the attention of Detective Jo Harper who starts to see some truth in what Lauren is saying, but this won’t be an easy case to crack, venturing off as it does into the realms of the supernatural!

This was a well written, though unsettling read, as it relies heavily on folklore and fairy tales of the darker kind. The author did an excellent job of portraying a post natal woman on the edge - very little sleep, a husband who shows no inclination to share responsibilities, and appears to care little about her well being. Add to that her fear that someone is out to steal her babies, and it’s not difficult to feel deep empathy with her. Though there was something of a slow start, it soon picks up pace and let me just say, it doesn’t get much creepier than this! Not something I’m likely to forget in a hurry!

* Thank you to Netgalley and HQ for my ARC, I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,612 reviews10.7k followers
September 17, 2023
Little Darlings is an delightfully eerie story. One that will stick with me long after the final page is turned.

Lauren Tranter has just become a first-time mother of twin boys, Riley and Morgan. While still in hospital, she begins to struggle with her new role.

A terrible hemorrhage post-birth provided an additional trauma and now she finds herself in constant pain, alone and questioning her ability to handle motherhood.

Making matters worse, one night an intruder breaks into her room, a very scary, ragged-looking woman, tries to take her babies, to exchange them with her own evil little monsters.

Luckily, Lauren is able to fight her off. Hiding in the bathroom of her hospital room, she is able to call for help.

Unfortunately, no one believes her story. The hospital staff didn't see anyone. Additionally, how could an intruder have gotten past the surveillance cameras without being seen?

They suggest Lauren must be hallucinating, suffering from some sort of postpartum psychosis.

Detective Joanna Harper isn't convinced Lauren was imagining the incident and she begins to investigate further, contrary to her superior's wishes.

Once back home with the boys, Lauren's struggles continue. Her asshole husband, Patrick...

...is about as supportive as a dead jellyfish, so without any relief, she really begins to sink toward rock bottom.

She never leaves the house, doesn't socialize and lives in constant fear that the would-be kidnapper will return. In fact, one evening, she sees the woman outside the house, staring in at her.

As Patrick begrudgingly goes to investigate, Lauren decides to call the sympathetic officer who spoke with her while she was in the hospital, Detective Harper.

This book has an absolutely wicked and ominous feel throughout. I don't think I have ever read a Thriller that bordered on the supernaturally horrific as much as this one did.

The idea of changelings is closely examined in this work and I loved how many chapters began with little excerpts from various fairy tales focused on that topic.

Lauren is truly terrified for the majority of this book and that really got under my skin. The writing used to illicit that feeling was so strong.

I was definitely swept up in her thoughts and equally as much into Detective Harper's investigation.

I loved so much about this book. There is a lot of the plot I am not even going to mention here as it is best to be taken off guard by it.

Immediately after finishing, I was thinking I would give it a 4.5-star rating. There were a couple of plot points that I wished had been expanded on, or moved around in the context of the story, but upon further reflection, to hell with that.

This is a great freaking book. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes dark, slightly scary, content!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an early copy to read and review.

I will most likely read it again someday as I enjoyed it that much. Until then I will be loaning out my copy to all friends and family who will take it.

I genuinely cannot wait to see what is next for this author!
Profile Image for  Teodora .
329 reviews1,780 followers
September 27, 2023
3.45/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review!

me:*gets the blankie and stuffed lion* let the horror begin

...25% reading later...

me: okay...what about a spook then?

...the final half of the book...

me: *hugs tight Leo, the stuffed lion* shh my baby! I won't let that scary unshowered woman take you away from me!

When I started this book I had very high hopes which is strange because I’ve learned not to have high hopes in life only and just only I have something I can put my finger on. The synopsis had me just like that. The reviews had me just like that. And there I was, standing at 25% of the book and expecting something.

Okay, yeah, I get it, I shouldn’t expect the good shit from only 25% (which is like how much anyway? 76 pages?), but to be honest I am in a point in my life when I don’t need slow readings anymore. I feel murdered. I know I am being absurd, but I WANTED WHAT MY SYNOPSIS PROMISED. And I wanted it on the spot.

But after patiently reading on - man, it might’ve been a click somewhere, because there were several passages when I actually felt a shiver down my spine and I thought oh well, my girl, this is it, it’s going down (and also maybe because I was reading those passages at 1:30 in the middle of the night in general but oh well…).

Why have I felt the urge to read this book?

The synopsis spoke to my inner child.
Yeah, you've heard me.

As a child, I was always fascinated by fairy tales and by that I don’t mean the Disney-ish stories that some kids are spoon fed, but the real folkloric tales, as they are told from generation to generation, from mouth to mouth so to say. I remember that once when I was about six or seven or so, I found a very old-looking book through my aunt's things. It was a big book with a hardcover and some pretty drawings of a beautiful fairy or a princess with a very long, blonde hair and a long dress and a cute crown on her head. The book was full of animated fairy tales, so real that one could believe in them. I was fascinated by that book. I still want to ask my aunt if she still has it. It was a treasure for a child like me back then. I read it from cover to cover without breathing. It was marvellous.
Those stories, in that book, were Romanian tales as well as tales from different folklores around the world. They were so vivid, so real, so palpable that you could feel yourself being dragged between the pages. Also, they were brutally honest. And I loved it.

(And where did this go? Well, I am a bit twisted, more like a creeper who enjoys weird stories, but this is my nature now, I go to sleep just fine every night. After all, I am Romanian. We love our tales raw).

Now, knowing all that about me, how can a book like that not intrigue me?? Honestly, the little girl with the big colourful fairy tales book just started jumping up and down.

The book is very imaginative in a very common way. Yes, there are tons and tons of retellings about great stories, but I don’t think many people thought of the idea of retelling some gruesome folkloric tales.

The main idea of the book is based on the European myth of the Changeling, an evil fairy who abducts babies and leaves in their place its own creatures. (more about that here)

An excellent book to chill your blood through your veins and to activate your paranoid antennas, Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is a very well-documented and well-written gruesome tale in the real world.
October 25, 2020

Well this one is going to be difficult to write. I would have to classify this as a psychological thriller with the addition of folklore or the supernatural. At any rate it was a truly creepy, turn the pages quickly read. While at first I thought it would be something that wouldn’t be believable, by the first third of the book I was truly scared at what the outcome of this story would be.

As a mom of four I remember the sleep deprived feelings, forgetting what day it even is, never having time for a shower or to read even a magazine or newspaper and the constant needs of a newborn. I can’t even imagine the exhaustion of this new mother of twins.

The story begins shortly after a very traumatic delivery of twin boys to Lauren Tranter. During her hospitalization Lauren is sure that she sees and hears a dirty, rag covered woman showing her a basket of what looked like baby rats and singing an unusual song. After a bit of talk the woman says, “Let’s deal, Let’s change one for another”. “Give me one of yours and I’ll take care of it, You have one of mine and treat it like your own” The woman grasps Lauren’s arm and she struggles to get away, Choose one, said the woman, “choose one of I’ll take them both. You’ll never know the difference, I can make sure they look just the same”. What could be more horrific, she grabs the twins trolley and locks herself in the bathroom and calls the police. The hospital security and police arrive only to find just a very scared woman locked in the bathroom with her babies.

Well that is the set up for the rest of the story which I found to be engrossing. No one believes Lauren, they just chalk it up to exhaustion and sleep deprivation, plus the difficult delivery and medications. After she returns home, she refuses to leave the babies alone for even a few minutes. Finally her husband urges her to go outside. She is finally out in the park with the babies and falls asleep on a bench only to have someone or something take the twins. When they are found and returned to her she is certain that they are not her babies but something other, more sinister, a changeling perhaps?

There is only one person, DS Jo Harper, who believes her and even goes so far as to look up the history of the small town and folklore attached to another incident which sounds a lot like what is happening to Lauren.

To quote the publisher of Crooked Lane Books “I bet you’ll delight in this sinister supernatural thriller that challenges our understanding of modern motherhood and the myths that shape our lives. Folktales do not spring from whimsy, they serve as a warning.”

I had so many ideas of what was truly happening, who was behind the kidnapping, etc. but in the end I was wrong. At least I think I was wrong, because the ending leaves one guessing!

It’s amazing that this is a debut novel. While thinking about this book again and realizing how much of the story has stuck with me over the last few days I’ve decided to change my rating to 4 ½ rounded up to a 5. This was a Traveling Sister read with Mary Beth and Heidi.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,198 reviews3,039 followers
February 23, 2022
The book is told from the point of view of Lauren Tranter, an exhausted new mother of twins and Jo Harper a detective who investigates the events that take place concerning Lauren and her twins. The story starts towards the end of Lauren's long labor and the baby boys are named Morgan and Riley. Lauren spends several days in the hospital with them, wondering when her "love" for her babies will appear. Lauren is exhausted, inexperienced, and gets no real support from her husband Ben, at any time in the story. The first night of her babies' birth, she hears and sees a dirty woman in the area next to hers, singing a horrid song, while a basket with the woman's "twins" surrounded by rags, sits at the woman's feet. As the woman tries to trade babies with Lauren, she is able to call 999 to get help and Det. Jo Harper's intuition drives her to want to know more about what is happening to Lauren.

Once home, Lauren grows to love her baby boys and will do anything for them. The doctors, nurses, and Lauren's husband think that Lauren was hallucinating in the hospital and when she sees the woman in front of her home, Ben is upset that Jo Harper would even consider what Lauren saw as real. Lauren continues to see the dirty woman over the next month as she learns from fairy tales about changelings, and knows she must do everything she can to keep this woman from swapping twins with her. Lauren doesn't even leave the house until the twins are 5 weeks old.

This is Grimms Fairy Tales come to life for Lauren and Jo Harper is the only person who believes something is really happening to Lauren...that Lauren isn't just hallucinating everything she sees. The book had me hooked from the beginning and I felt so much compassion for Lauren and a lot of disgust for her husband, who knew his wife was exhausted but insisted the twins, the house, the chores, were all her responsibility. Ben wasn't willing to help Lauren in any way and wanted life to go back to how it was before they were born, with his only responsibility being his job during the day and going to the bar to "network" in the evenings.

What is real and what is a figment of Lauren's imagination? Many things point either direction and even Lauren doubts herself at times. Jo Harper works to find out what exactly is going on, with the help of Amy, a journalist that Jo fancies. The 'maybe' romance between Jo and Amy detracted from the book for me. It just didn't fit into the story and was unnecessary, in my opinion. Otherwise this book entranced me, even with an ending that may leave some readers questioning just what was real.

Published April 30, 2019

Thank you to Crooked Lane books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,766 followers
April 25, 2019
Five Creepy Stars

Laura Tranter just had newborn twins. She named them Morgan and Riley. She is exhausted and needs a lot of rest. The night in the hospital room a woman tried to take her babies. and replace them with her own...creatures. Eek! When she tells everyone what happened, no one believes her. They think that she is just imagining things and needs lot of rest. Harper was a police officer on the case. Compulsively creepy and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales. Each chapter starts with a passage from dark folklore. Is Lauren imagining all of this or is the supernatural real?

How to protect your child.

1. Placing a key next to an infant will prevent him from being exchanged.

2. Woman may never be left alone during the first six weeks following childbirth, for the devil then has more power over them.

3. During the first six weeks following childbirth, mothers may not go to sleep until someone has come to watch the child. If mothers are overcome by sleep, changelings are often laid in the cradle.
Jacob Grimm

EEK!! I loved this book and it was so creepy good! !I love dark fairytales. I couldn't believe this was a debut novel. I was immediately drawn into the story and my eyes were glued to the pages. This was a very fast paced read with lots of suspense and was so intriguing. The supernatural was so creepy. This one will definitely be a memorable story. This book is so different and I have not read a book like this before. Its a nightmare but not scary. Its such an addicting read. The ending was cleverly done and that's why I gave it 5 stars. This author has a great imagination and I hope she has another book coming out soon.

The characters were fully developed. I really loved Lauren's character. I felt so sorry for her and my heart went out to her. I didn't like Patrick. He didn't seem to be concerned at all. I thought he was a terrible husband.

This was a Traveling Sister Read and we all enjoyed it.

I want to thank Edelweiss, Crooked Lane Books and the author for the copy of this book in exchange for for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,307 reviews44k followers
May 17, 2020
Okay, I need lots of cold water, not to drink of course! I need to splash it on my face to clean the stupid shocked expression my face!

First of all: this book is not a thriller. Is it dark? Hell yes!
Is it disturbing? Yeap!
Is it creepy? Hell yeah!

But it should be considered as a dark fiction, an adaption of Welsh fairy tale with its magical, folklore elements. A fairytale about a mother gave birth to her newborn twins who were swapped with changelings. I know this story line is already makes you say WTH!

So let’s get back to the adaptation and characters. Our heroine (as you may imagine mother of the twins) Lauren Tranter gets exhausted after her labor. But before she dozes off at her maternity ward, she sees something spooky, weird: a woman tries to get her twins and replace them with other babies. WHAT?

Maybe Lauren was too tired and she confused her nightmares with reality. Who knows? But she insists she’s telling the truth. So the hospital security and police officers search the hospital. They cannot find anything. Nobody believes in Lauren even her own husband. Thankfully Detective Harper pays attention to her story for her own reasons.

Lauren returns back to her home, obsessed with the security of the babies. She does her best to keep an eye on them. But you know what sleep deprivation, taking care of two babies alone and dealing with post-partum depression may be so challenging when you become a new mother. So you may empathize easily with the physical and emotional pain she endures.
One day, at the park, Lauren’s babies disappear from her side and she faces with her biggest fear: because when they’re found, she realizes the babies she deliver not her babies! :Somebody kidnapped and replaced them.

So is Lauren telling the truth? Is there a sinister woman who stole babies or is she delusional and suffering from mental illness? Or is this more complicated and sinister than we may imagine?
Well, come on! Grab the book and start turning pages! It’s getting messier at each moment.

Personally I love something juicier, more surprising, twisty and extreme stories when it comes to read something mysterious but this book is mystical, psychological fiction playing with our minds. It didn’t fit with my expectations but the writing is quiet good and the parts about Lauren’s fight with inner demons, her struggles to be a good and protective mother, trying to gather her strength mentally and psychically without anyone’s support were written quiet impeccably. It’s impossible not to feel for her character and live inside her mind and heart.

As a result: I went back and forth between 3 and 4 and my waltz moves ended at 3.5 rounded up 4 stars because the writing style, story-telling were really captivating and of course it was great adaptation of an eerie, bleak fairy-tale. One of the creepiest experiences of my year so let’s move on to the other books before the year ends ASAP!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,482 reviews79k followers
March 22, 2019
Have you ever found yourself writing a review for a book that you didn't particularly enjoy, but found important and/or necessary? Little Darlings was just that read for me, and if you'll bear with me, I'll do my best in unpacking these complicated feelings I have below.

"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 it 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

I feel the need to say up front that my review will be covering this book from two standpoints: 1) as a genre read and 2) as a fictional exposition and, dare I say allegory, of postpartum depression/anxiety and the overall grief some new mothers find themselves enduring as they enter this new stage of life. I'm going to tackle the less glowing of the two first and save what I found empowering for the grand finale.

As a mystery/thriller/horror/whatever genre you want to market this as, I found it ok. My intense love of all things involving Welsh folklore should have sealed this as a 5 star read, but I think my expectations were not on par for what this book is meant to offer. That's not a bad thing, just simply a form of miscommunication and overeagerness on this reader's part. Obviously, (and keeping this spoiler free) you are made aware that Little Darlings is considered a paranormal thriller, due to the plot engaging in a tango of "have Lauren's babies been swapped with changelings or is she suffering some form of postpartum psychosis?" I think the reason I was a little let down in this aspect is due to a number of influences. Could it be that, because I have read so many incredible mysteries lately indulging in Welsh folklore that I'm oversaturated at the moment? Could it be that I've just read so many mysteries that I've come to demand an unfair level of "confound me, dammit!" in my reads? It's quite possible. I'm clearly in the minority that I found the pacing to be slow and drawn out, and that could be because of point two.

"She was still waiting for the rush of love. That one you feel, all at once the second they're born, like nothing you've ever experienced before. The rush of love that people with children always go on about. She'd been looking forward to it. It worried her that she hadn't felt it yet."

Now to the part I've been itching to write about. This is a bloody well-done depiction, albeit fictional, of the terrifying and lonely spiral into PPD. As someone who has suffered twice with PPD/PPA, I found Golding's writing and comparisons to be so spot on, it was as if she had crawled into my brain and taken my greatest fears and weaknesses and put them on paper. I'm in awe of how accurately she portrayed this mental battle, and wondered as I read if she herself had suffered with this, or was close to someone who had in the past. That said, it was a difficult read that had me fighting to block out some of those horrible memories; I think it's worth noting that this may be a triggering read for others who have suffered with PPD and you may want to assure you're in the proper mental state before devouring this novel. I have a huge respect for the author in bringing attention to a disorder that, while common and affecting numerous women each year, is still considered very taboo and kept quiet. This is an important read and a story that needed to be written, and for that fact alone I hope this novel gets the worldwide attention and success that it deserves.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Michelle .
912 reviews1,406 followers
October 16, 2018
Let me begin this review with saying that I have absolutely no business reviewing an ARC that doesn't even publish until April 2019 when I have so many ARC's pending soon or better yet the ones I'm behind on BUT the synopsis for this is beyond intriguing and it's October when it's time for all things creepy and spooky and this one seemed a perfect choice for the season.

And I was right! <--- it does happen once in awhile! ;)

Whoa! Little Darlings was an absolute delight to read.

"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

Imagine giving birth to a set of lovely twin boys. Imagine in the middle of the night on the very day of their birth a vile woman invades your hospital room and insists on swapping your babies for hers. Imagine that no one, not even your own husband, believes you.

Now you've returned home with your babies and the mother in you wants to protect them fiercely from the outside evil you know exists. After spending a month locked behind closed doors your husband decides it's time you venture out for a walk. Get some fresh air. So you take his advice to avoid an argument and think to yourself maybe he's right. Maybe it is all in my head.

You stroll through the park, the sun on your shoulders and crisp leaves crunching underfoot, when a coming bench is all too tempting to take a little rest with your boys.

Now imagine this: you awake, startled on the bench, not knowing how long you've been asleep only to see that the stroller and your precious babies are no longer there.

Not all is lost though and after a brief search the beautiful babies are found and returned to you. You look upon the lovely boys only to realize they aren't your babies at all.

"I told you, that wasn't them," said Lauren, "whatever was in that stroller. They've been swapped. They're evil those things, they're not my babies."

I could not put this one down! If you want a creepy read then this is a MUST READ! On a side note, this has been optioned to film and I hope with all my heart that this happens. This would be perfect on the big screen. An easy 5 Stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,421 reviews35.2k followers
October 28, 2018
"Mother Knows Best"

Lauren Tranter has just given birth to twin boys, Morgan and Riley. Naturally she is exhausted and in need of sleep. But she knows what she saw in her room in the maternity ward - a woman attempting to take her twins and replace them with her own, "it’s only fair". However, when hospital security and the police arrive, they find no evidence of the possible kidnapper. Furthermore, no one believes Lauren, but Detective Harper, a police officer feels that there might be something to Lauren's story.

Lauren continues to feel unease and doesn't want to leave her home. Her mission is to protect her babies. On a rare outing to the park, the twins disappear from her side, and once found, Lauren is convinced that something is not right, and Lauren declares "these are not my babies"

Little Darlings is inspired by dark fairy tales and folklore. This book is sprinkled with quotes and passages referring to "changelings". The folklore and fairy tales fit seamlessly into this tale and further add to the feeling of dread and provide for an eerie atmosphere. The entire book I was guessing just what was going on. Was Lauren correct, was there some sinister woman attempting to swap babies with her, was Lauren experiencing symptoms of postpartum psychosis. I love trying to figure things out in books, and this one had me guessing!

This is a well written psychological thriller which is atmospheric with a dark creepy feel. My only complaint is that I wanted this book to be darker, to be even creepier, and more suspenseful. I also thought there were "romances" and "possible romances" in this book which really did not add to the story and in fact detracted from the story to a small degree. I wanted more menacing and heart pounding moments.

Overall, an enjoyable read. It is easy to feel for Lauren as she struggles with caring for two newborns, sleep deprivation, recovering from childbirth and having very little assistance at home. She is struggling with so many things while also being hyper-vigilant attempting to keep her children safe. A creepy tale to read late at night with the lights out! Plus, it just might inspire you to pick up some fairy tales and folklore as the passages used were quite brilliant!

Thank you to Melanie Golding, Crooked Lane books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
644 reviews468 followers
May 31, 2019
“She had to play the game, even before she knew what the rules were.”

The best way to describe Little Darlings is as a ‘Dark & Sinister Fairytale’. Melanie Golding has combined elements of a psychological thriller and folklore to perfection to craft a modern dark fairytale. Almost everyone has read a dark folk story in their childhood and this will bring back memories of that.

The writer was able to create a psychological thriller which is atmospheric with a dark and creepy feel to it throughout. It blends folklore and fairy tales perfectly together, with a touch of horror to the story. In fact, the element of magic makes some of the mystery parts more believable. This book is full of with quotes and passages from other folk stories (which was a nice touch). The tense atmosphere, the narration, and the twists and turns make you question your judgment, as to what is real and what is an illusion. You no longer know what and whom to believe and that is storytelling at it’s very best.

Having said that there are some parts that didn’t work. Detective Harper and her storyline with a reporter didn’t add to the story at all and were in fact distracting,g from the main mystery. Also, the ending did not answer all the unanswered questions, which was sort of disappointing.

Overall, Little Darlings is an intense and atmospheric thriller and does a great job in combining folklore with reality, which was unique. Fans of psychological thrillers will love this one.

Many thanks to the publishers Crooked Lane Books & Ingram Publisher Services, the author Melanie Golding and Edelweiss for the ARC.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
November 14, 2018
Creepy, gripping, & atmospheric!

The story is inspired by some deliciously creepy dark fairy tales that adds an extra layer to the sinister, menacing and eerie feel of the book. I absolutely love these types of tales and found myself devouring this one!

LITTLE DARLINGS by MELANIE GOLDING is an unsettling, compulsive and mysterious tale that had me constantly wavering between believing Lauren’s story and thinking maybe she really is just imagining it all. The feelings that I had for Lauren throughout were quite intense and had me feeling her fear. I wanted to believe her!

MELANIE GOLDING delivers an atmospheric and well-written read here and does a great job with slowly building up the tension and making me believe in those dark folktales. I absolutely loved how the folklore was integrated into the storyline and how plot points were addressed quickly and flowed nicely into the next chapter. Not having to wait and leaving us hanging added some suspense to the actual storyline for me, that I really appreciated.

I think there were some characters and scenes that weren’t necessary though but all in all I thought this was a very good, entertaining and enjoyable read.

Expected Publishing Date: April 30, 2019

*Traveling Sisters Read*

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: I got a chance to vote on this cover and mine wasn’t chosen. To be honest I didn’t really care for any of the covers.
Title: A fitting and good representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, impressive debut, descriptive and absorbing.
Plot: Gripping, intriguing, engrossing, fascinating, sinister, steadily-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: An ending that left us with a little bit of mystery to ponder that I was totally satisfied with interpreting on my own.
Overall: Dare I say, just a little more creepy though! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Sarah at Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s E-Proof in exchange for a review!

Review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
315 reviews2,418 followers
March 24, 2019

Little Darlings
has caused quite a buzz in the literary world. I read where the UK publisher snatched up the manuscript within 48 hours of submission! A six-figure sum for the book and now news of the movie rights being sold—wowzah, great news for a debut author.

So, what’s the big deal, you say?

As in most psyche suspense novels, we have the requisite unreliable female narrator, her highly sketch husband and an instinctual police detective as the main characters. Lauren wakes up in the hospital after a traumatic childbirth and finds an old woman trying to snatch her newborn twins. While most everyone in Lauren’s life writes off this attempted abduction as some sort of postpartum psychosis, our intrepid detective has a gut feeling this may be a real-life crime.

Where Little Darlings breaks away from the same old/same old is in the gorgeously stylized horror factor. At one point in the story, Lauren believes the babies have been switched and are not hers. I promise-- you will never look at anyone’s baby the same again after reading the passages about these changelings! Golding’s vivid descriptions of the babies singing eerie songs at night or talking to each other is SOOOOO SCARY!!! Movie? Yes, please. (Insert creepy CG faces onto little baby bundles here).

Heavily borrowed from fables and fairy tales, Little Darlings skillfully walks the line between psychological and supernatural horror. Ingeniously, the reader is left to decide how much to believe when it comes to the ghost stuff. I’m not a big supernatural fan, but little bits injected into a familiar story is perfect and adds a great deal to the already tense atmosphere.

Despite a slow start, I enjoyed this novel very much. I especially liked the police procedural part of the story. I was always questioning how many of the events had actually happened or were just imagined by Lauren. Detective Sergeant Harper brought a welcome dose of earthy realism.

A true modern nightmare—creepy and compelling. WARNING: New mothers should NOT read it!

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for my advanced copy. All opinions are my own. The novel is due to be released on April 30, 2019 .
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
833 reviews4,711 followers
May 9, 2019
4 Creepy, Grimm-esque Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for Melanie Golding's Little Darlings

Little Darlings is inspired by those dark and creepy fairytales that I love to be scared by! The idea of changelings, a child secretly substituted by fairies in infancy, has always fascinated me. I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard what it was about and it definitely did not disappoint!

Golding did an amazing job setting the scene in this thriller. It was creepy, dark and suspenseful and kept me furiously turning the pages. Lauren gives birth to twins Morgan and Riley and like all new mothers finds herself barely able to cope. It's an endless routine of feeding, changing, soothing and lulling to sleep only to have the cycle repeat again as soon as she thinks she will have a moment to rest. Exhausted and overwhelmed, Lauren soon finds herself also in a desperate fight to save her babies from a woman who wants to take them. Only, no one else sees this woman and soon Lauren is also fighting for her sanity.

What I loved was how Golding keeps the reader guessing throughout the book. Is there truly evil, dark magic at play or is Lauren herself mentally unstable and dangerous? I thought the ending was well done, clever and satisfying! I enjoyed the excerpts throughout - they added valuable insight to the fairy tale angle and definitely upped the creepy factor.

This was a wonderful debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Melanie Golding's imaginative mind comes up with next! Thank you Melanie Golding, Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,078 reviews59k followers
September 24, 2020
Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is a 2019 Crooked Lane publication.

Creepy, atmospheric mix of psychological suspense and supernatural folklore

Lauren is understandably exhausted after giving birth to twins, but enough to imagine she saw a woman enter her hospital room and attempt to swap out her babies? Lauren insists someone is out to steal her twins, but the only person who is giving her the benefit of the doubt is Joanna Harper, the officer who responded to Lauren’s initial emergency call.

Then, just as Lauren is starting to feel confident about going out again her babies are abducted, just has she’d feared. Although they are quickly recovered, Lauren has a horrifying reaction, insisting the babies aren’t hers, which promptly lands her in an institution.

As Jo investigates the odd goings on, she makes some interesting discoveries about Lauren’s husband, some lurid folklore tales about twins, and a shockingly similar case that took place decades earlier...

This book was super-hot amongst some of my friends on social media last year. I’d been dying to see what all the fuss was about, but as I was still doing a lot of assigned work at that time the book slid down my TBR list and off my radar. I don’t think I realized the novel had such a strong paranormal tone, thinking it was more of a psychological thriller. As it turns out the novel is adept at genre bending- mixing suspense and mystery with supernatural elements, while painting a vivid portrait of the willing sacrifices parents will make in order to protect or save their children.

It’s an interesting mashup, and it works spectacularly. If all horror novels were like this one, I’d read this genre more often.

I liked Joanna, but occasionally her personal thoughts and relationship woes didn’t really interest me, or add anything much to the story. All her fretting about her feelings slowed down the momentum, occasionally breaking the carefully woven spell. Jo had some far more interesting event in her past that could have been explored more deeply. I didn't think her character was given enough depth, where there was some big potential there.

Other than that, this is a super tense story, very eerie and atmospheric, and despite the slightly disappointing and ambiguous conclusion, it left me with a lingering feeling of poignancy long after the final page was turned.

4 stars
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
679 reviews1,323 followers
November 13, 2018
4 stars!

Creepy, haunting, addictive and atmospheric!

Lauren Tranter is a new mother to twin boys. As many new moms do, Lauren struggles upon her return home from the hospital after giving birth. She is exhausted, she is constantly feeding her babies, she can’t find time for a shower, she can’t possibly think of finding a way to venture out of the house with the boys to get groceries. Her husband works a lot and pushes Lauren to get out of the house with the twins to refresh and reacquaint herself with society. Lauren’s first venture outside ends with a traumatic afternoon that changes her family forever.

I was immediately drawn into this story and felt a strong connection throughout. The author, Melanie Golding, does a brilliant job building suspense, keeping the intensity of the intrigue engrossing throughout the entire story. The characters were fantastic – I loved the two main characters, Lauren and DS Jo Harper. I could strongly relate to Lauren – Golding did an exceptional job capturing the chaos and exhaustion of a new mom.

This novel has supernatural aspects that were handled skillfully and believably. Supernatural elements are usually a turn-off for me, but they were presented in such an intriguing and fascinating way, that I was completely drawn into the plot and invested in the characters.

This was a Traveling Sister read that we enjoyed discussing. A big thank you to Brenda and Norma for offering the Traveling Sisters the exciting opportunity to read this title. It is not a book that I would have been drawn to on my own but am so happy I tried it out! To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit our blog at:


Thank you to Sarah at Crooked Lane Books and Melanie Golding for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Holly  B .
850 reviews2,016 followers
April 16, 2019
An ominous and beautifully written fairy tale filled with touches of mythology and folklore. 

Two little darling twin boys and mother who loves them immensely.

Everything else I was reading took a backseat to this scrumptious tale. I just couldn't stop reading it. It has an addictive quality and the author's skillful writing and magical descriptions pulled me right into the heart of the story. And it does have heart! The mother has so much love for her babies.

The mom of newborn twins, Lauren's intense love for her boys shines throughout the book. She took me through many emotions and while she was surrounded by a cloud of mystery. I wanted to believe her.  Real or imagined ? This is what I kept asking myself.

I also enjoyed the police-procedural side of the story. The clues, the investigation and a determined officer added to the tension and intrigue. An intoxicating and atmospheric journey.

Are these little darlings her babies?  

Thanks to NG/ Crooked Lane for my review copy. Out April 30, 2019.  Blog review closer to PD.

Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews942 followers
September 14, 2018
If Grimms' Fairy Tales and The Changeling had a twin babies, Little Darlings would be those babies.

An unsettling tale of a new mother, Lauren, of twin boys, who finds herself terrorized by a macabre woman attempting to abduct Lauren's babies and replace them with her own. Her account is dismissed by hospital staff, the police, and even her husband as a hallucination attributed to exhaustion, even Lauren herself begins to question her own sanity. The only person that is unconvinced that Lauren has simply snapped is the investigator that responded to her call for help, Detective Harper.

Upon returning home from the hospital, Lauren quickly descends into a waking nightmare that she cannot escape from, leaving her more and more desperate and going to extreme lengths to protect her infants.

If I had one con to point out in this story it would be with the narrative for Detective Harper. Her personal relationship with the reporter is distracting and adds nothing towards advancement of the plot.

This story is framed with dark history and and even darker folklore that adds an eerie depth to the book. This is a foreboding and unnerving spine-chiller that leaves the reader questioning if it's possible for fable to turn into reality.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,127 reviews3,714 followers
March 17, 2019
Oh my goodness! This book rolled out as a truly creepy read that had me keeping several lights in the house shining bright as I huddled in the corner of my sofa, shaking while I read on.

Lauren Tranter has just given birth to twins, exhausted from a prolonged labor and delivery. Curiously, she keeps over-hearing another woman behind the curtain in the next bed singing to her twins.
Lauren can’t believe it! Two sets of twins in one night? What are the odds? Things take a strange turn however, when the other woman asks Lauren to swap babies. WHAT!? Terrified, she immediately locks herself in the bathroom and calls the police.

When Lauren discharges home from the hospital, fear for her babies keeps her firmly locked in her home. Can Lauren save her babies from this strange, other woman? Or is it too late?

Melanie Golding writes an atmospheric and creepy tale that will leave you wondering what’s real and what’s not! Normally I avoid anything remotely supernatural but in this case it worked. I was actually left wanting more of that aspect!

A fabulously chilling buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarah Poppe at Crooked Lane Books and Melanie Golding for an ARC to read and review!
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,157 followers
April 18, 2019
I rarely request and read horror novels but I decided that I might try Little Darlings even though the Author was unknown to me. And it was a good choice! The city of Sheffield with its rivers makes a perfect setting for the plot. The story revolves around an alleged kidnapping of infant twin brothers.Their mother, Lorraine Trantner, is convinced some evil power threatens the lives of her newly-born sons but it seems she is unable to prove ther fears. Some personal problems from the past also make her an unreliable witness. The only person who gradually begins to believe her is a female detective and who acts in order to try to reveal the truth. The atmosphere in this horror novel is well presented and original passages from folk stories and tales add to it. The story develops at a pace which I found satisfying even though it was not a real page-turner for me.

*Many thanks to Makeanie Golding, Crooked Lane Books and Netgalley for providing me with ARC in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
October 28, 2018
A truly haunting story. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it.

Lauren gives birth to twins and taking care of them without any help has been exhausting. Taking her husband's advice she decides to get out of the house and take them for a stroll in the park. She dozes off for a moment and when she wakes up they're gone! 

The police is called and luckily they are found nearby, however, even though these babies look exactly like hers she knows they're not her children. From here on the novel takes an even more sinister turn.

I found the novel to be creepy and strange but at the same time I could not stop reading. There were short sections with traditional folktales that gave the novel a darker tone. Overall, I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Received ARC from the publisher 

* I read this book with the Traveling Sisters. Our discussions made my experience more enriching and interesting*

Profile Image for Nina (ninjasbooks).
954 reviews373 followers
September 11, 2023
This was an unsettling, fast-paced read. What a nightmare to suspect your children has been replaced, I felt the author managed to convey how that might feel and influence one’s choices.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
March 18, 2019
3.75 Stars.* (rounded up)

Fairy Tales and Folklore, what a combination!

Imagine being Lauren Tranter, mother to newborn twins, Morgan and Riley. She is excited and nervous to take her babies home and then she get visited by a disheveled, dirty and smelly woman who threatens to steal her babies and replace them with her own “changelings.” Then it happens and Lauren Tranter is beside herself. Detective Jo Harper investigates and is the only one who believes her. The babies don’t just coo and smile - they imitate an adults’ behavior. Could it be possible?

Lauren swears these are not her babies! How far will she go to get them back?

There are fairy tales, there is dark lore and then there is “Little Darlings.” Is your heart in your throat? Do you have the chills? Admittedly, I will say that this is one strange tale and it took some very odd turns and yet I was glued to the pages like there was no tomorrow. With “Little Darlings,” Melanie Golding weaved a sinister tale that is sure to capture your attention in the wickedest of ways.

This was a buddy read with Kaceey and both of us were absolutely fascinated.

A huge thank you to Sarah at Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley and Melanie Golden for a galley of this novel to read and review.

Published on Goodreads on on 3.17.19.
Will be published on Amazon and Twitter on the release date of 4.30.19.
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,625 followers
May 23, 2020

Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
Come away, O human child. To the waters and the wild.
-W.B. Yeats, "The Stolen Child"

This book is not your average thriller. No, no, no! In fact, the fact that this is grouped into the thriller genre is a bit misleading. This book leans more into the magical realism with a buttload of horror. Think Stephen King's It. In fact, I would confidently say that this book was scarier than It. Aside from the phenomenal scares, the superb characters and the spooky story made for one of the best novels I've read this year.

So, what's this book about?
Little Darlings follows Lauren, a new mother. After giving birth to twins, Riley and Morgan, she is pretty stressed, which is pretty normal for most new mothers. But then, in the hospital, an old woman tries to abduct her twins. She is horrified to find that no one believes her. After all, there is no evidence supporting her claim. She must be crazy. Right? But things get worse. Riley and Morgan are abducted in the park. Fortunately, they are found very quickly but something is wrong. They aren't Riley and Morgan. At least, that's what Lauren thinks. When she tries to tell her husband, doctors, anyone, they don't believe her. Lauren is promptly taken to a psychiatric ward but she knows she needs to do whatever is necessary to get her children back.

Lauren - Goddamn, this book really messed with my mind. Phew. It's not outright said that Lauren is mentally unstable for a good half of the book but it's subtly implied. Notice, I said subtly. Things as little as an item out of place or a shadow that looked as though it was moving made me feel a little closer to insanity. Did you know that if you put a frog in room temperature water and then slowly turn the heat up until it's boiling, the frog won't notice? It gets hotter and hotter and then BOOM, it's dead. It was like that with Lauren. At first, she was pretty average but then I realized she, and thus me, had gone completely batsh*t crazy.

Patrick - BURN HIM WITH FIRE. What an asshole. I really don't understand what Lauren saw in him but that d*ck needs to go.

Harper - And now the part of the review where I tell you how much I related to this character. Harper is a detective who catches wind of Lauren's case. Even though it's been set aside, Harper just can't let it go and begins to do her own research. It was this determination and strong will to go against the tide that made me love Harper so much. If we ever get a sequel or companion novel, I would love to see more of her.

As I mentioned earlier, this book isn't really a thriller as much as it is horror with magical realism. Lauren is seeing things that are slightly paranormal. Old, creepy ladies watching through windows. Strange items showing up in places for unknown reasons. I think the best and worst part of the aspect was that we never know if it's real or if it's just Lauren's imagination. This combined with the cold, chilling horror that I experienced throughout the whole novel was that like I have never experienced.

And finally, I just want to say that you need to read this book. It will rock your world and give you scares that will keep you up until late in the evening.

Bottom Line:
4.5 Stars
Age Rating [ R ]
Cover: 3/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 4/5 ~ Audio: 4.5/5
TW: Mental Illness, Murder, Use of the word Cr*zy
Genre: Horror/Magical Realism
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: April 31st, 2019
Best Format: Audio

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Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,722 followers
February 8, 2019
Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is a story about pain, hope, psychosis, fairy tales, motherhood, lies, and drama. It is the type of book where you do not get all the answers and must interpret for yourself what actually happened in the final pages. For some, this will be a great opportunity to decide what is fantasy and what is real. For others, it's a foray into an unknown world of uncertainty. Whether you lean in either direction, one thing's for sure, it's good writing.

Lauren Tranter just gave birth to twin boys. Her husband, Patrick, is committed and loving, but there's something slightly off about him. There are no grandparents or siblings involved (okay, a minor scene with Patrick's sibling later on, but it doesn't impact the plot). Lauren doesn't work outside the home. They seem to have little to no friends except a soon-to-be mother's group who drops off peculiar gifts. When this happens, who do you turn to?

For Lauren, she's happy in her cocoon until the birth is way more difficult than she expected. The doctors almost lose her to excessive blood loss at one point, but she bounces back and begins to care for the little tykes perfectly. Except during the first overnight in the hospital, a weird witch-like woman threatens to swap the babies because hers are bad and Lauren's are good. Maybe they each keep one good and one bad, she suggests?

How would you handle the situation? Lock yourself in a bathroom to avoid anyone trying to steal them? Good plan, except on video tape, there's no one attacking you. Was it real? Was it supernatural fantasy thing? The fairy tales tell a very different story... one about a woman who demands you drown your children in order to save them. Lauren is trapped. If she does nothing, the woman comes nightly to haunt her. If she does something, the cops and/or hospital threaten to commit her. What a paradox! To love, you must hurt. How would you handle the situation?

Golding tells a wicked story with heart. Readers will be uncertain where to lend their loyalties as a few twists and turns convince you Lauren is crazy, but then easily show you she's not seeing things. For me, it drove me nuts! I like clarity, but I appreciate the variables at play here enough to indicate this book is a challenging read in a good a way. As a side story, one of the cops struggles to believe Lauren. Through research, she finds something that might confirm who kidnaps the kids, but in the end, all is not what it seems.

A psychological thriller, readers have a chance to determine how to interpret a story that can be told in many ways. Golding's talent sits in the ability to walk a fine line of confusion and power. We will all feel differently, yet it's the same words and story. Which part will you connect to? Definitely worth a read, you'll find hidden gems in the life lessons and fairy tale history we learn along the path. I recommend it for those looking for something a little different than the normal family drama.

Many thanks to the author and Crooked Lane for the chance to read this book. I voluntarily participated on the blog tour and am excited to spread the word about this novel.
Profile Image for Fran.
661 reviews632 followers
February 21, 2019
Lauren Tranter had just given birth to identical twin boys, Riley and Morgan. She was worried. She was "still waiting for the rush of love. That one you feel, at once the second they're born..." She felt that she might be "...trapped in her little family unit...". After all, husband Patrick was unwilling to help. He felt Lauren alone must sacrifice and embrace "parenthood". Caring for the twins wasn't actual work, he said.

Lauren is panic stricken upon seeing a grimy faced, dark haired, seemingly toothless woman enter her room in the maternity ward. The ghastly woman told Lauren that she had twins as well, but her twins were cursed. She wanted to make a deal with Lauren because she felt that Lauren had been given "everything" while she had "everything taken". She wanted to change babies, one for another. Lauren grabbed Riley and Morgan, ran into the bathroom, locked the door, and dialed the police to report an attempted child abduction.

Detective Sergeant Joanne Harper routinely checked overnight incident reports and happened upon an attempted child abduction at the Royal Infirmary Hospital. The incident was considered a false alarm. It was noted that MHS ( Mental Health Services) was involved. Jo had a "gut feeling of dread". Lauren must be terrified. Jo requested a copy of the CCTV hospital disc despite her superior DI Thrupp's insistence that the case was closed.

Lauren and Patrick Tranter are home from the hospital with the twins. Convincing his wife to leave the safety of their home, Lauren's first outing will have a devastating outcome. Sleep deprived Lauren falls asleep while resting in the park, awakening to a missing double stroller. Where are the babies? When they are found, Lauren screams that they are not her babies! Are they changelings?

DS Harper vacillates between belief and disbelief in Lauren's insistence that these "creatures" are not hers. Is the "kidnapping" a hallucination? How will Jo separate shadowy, inconclusive data from reality? Both Lauren Tranter and DS Jo Harper are truly unsettled by the disturbing events surrounding Morgan and Riley. Has Lauren experienced postpartum psychosis, a "temporary impairment of her mental health"? In true fairy tale style, each reader's interpretation will be his (her) own.

"Little Darlings" by Melanie Golding was a unsettling, eerie fantasy wrought with much uncertainty. It is a dark fairy tale-like read that will have the reader intent on separating fantasy from reality. An excellent debut novel I highly recommend.

Thank you Crooked Lane Books and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Little Darlings".
Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews309 followers
June 1, 2019

My thoughts in a nutshell
I slept on it. When I was finishing, I instantly gave it 2 stars. I was really disappointed because of the ending. It could have been my new favorite book. I have mixed feelings about it.

The story is about…
Skip over this point if you don't like the sneak peek.
Lauren has newborn twin boys. One night, in the hospital, she sees an ugly woman who also has twin boys. The creepy woman wants to switch her babies with Lauren's. Lauren called the police, but no one believes her story because nobody saw anything. Everyone says Lauren is exhausted, that she needs rest. But Lauren knows what she saw, and the things are getting worse.

What impressed me 😊
I was obsessed with Little Darlings. I couldn't put it down. I was reading late at night, although usually, I fall asleep early. This book forced me to read it. I desperately wanted to know what happens.
I'm not a mother but I can feel Lauren was such a good parent counter to Patrick. At 25%, I was getting so mad. I had to put the book down. Patrick was such a jerk. I hate when the husband can't help the exhausted mother, especially if they have twins. OMG, one baby is a huge challenge, but twins. My greatest respect is for moms. :-)
However, Patrick was an asshole. His behavior triggered some intense deep emotions inside of me so I adore when the author is able to cause an extreme reaction from me.
I admire the atmosphere. The story includes dark fairytale and folklore elements. Those are incredibly creepy in it. I didn't feel fear, but I had goosebumps. It sends shivers down my spine.
I also enjoyed the pacing. It was constantly exciting. I never got bored.

What I don't like ☹️
In my opinion, the book has some irrelevant events. Exp: I hated when the policewomen thought back her past. I don't care. I wanted to read Lauren's POV. I also don't like the cop relationship. It was also unnecessary. It doesn't put anything to the story, just occupy the place something exciting.
My biggest issue is the ending. It is wildly open. I thought I would get a specific plot-twist or a satisfying explanation. I usually enjoy it if the author leaves open a book. I'm so sorry, but I don't like it here. I needed some straight answers.

Make a conclusion
I decided I give it 3 stars. I enjoyed the whole book, I liked the atmosphere, I adored the elements UNTIL the end. It is a great book, the problem is with me and my oddly specific taste. I still highly recommend it to anyone who likes creepy plot, especially if you don't mind the open-ending.
It is a debut novel, I would like to read more from her.
Profile Image for Luvtoread.
512 reviews300 followers
May 6, 2019

Laura and Patrick have just become the new proud parents to identical twin boys Morgan and Riley. It was a difficult delivery for Laura so she is exhausted and in tremendous pain and very groggy from the medications she received but is happy to know the babies are healthy and normal.
Later in the night an incident occurs where the police are called and has Lauren shaken to her core. Unfortunately, this would only be the beginning of a series of frightening events that will have Laura fighting for her babies lives and struggling to hold onto her sanity.

This book was excellent! The first chapter was so realistic that I could feel all of Laura's pain. The author is a wonderful writer and she had my eyes glued to every page wanting to read more and more. Melanie Golding intertwined jut the right amount of folklore and fantasy where I believed everything that was happening and it was hard to draw the line about what was actually happening with the babies and Laura. "Little Darlings" is a beautifully written and well crafted story that deserves recognition for stylish storytelling.

I want to thank the publisher Crooked Lane Books and Netgally for the opportunity to read this ARC!

I highly recommend this very suspenseful novel and have rated it 5 Dark and Creepy 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Stars!!
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