The best horror plays off of real-life fears. For any parent the biggest fear has to be something happening to your children. Melanie Golding assaulted this fear. Playing with nursery rhymes and traditional children’s stories, Golding has created a new parent’s nightmare.
I wanted to love this story, to have Golding pull me into Lauren Tranter’s life and the pure terror that she experienced, but I just couldn’t get there. Little Darlings jumped back and forth between Lauren, the distraught mother who believes her children have been switched, and Harper, the tenacious investigator who refuses to accept that there is no case to be found here.
The Harper storyline felt more like a distraction that added little or nothing to Lauren’s plight. In the end, I felt like this arc of the story was a tool to allow Golding to begin her series. The story was supposed to be about Lauren, Morgan, and Riley, but now that all of her readers know and like Harper, we will all be eagerly awaiting Harper’s next case. When it happens naturally, I love it. When I feel like you are trying to trick me, I lose some respect.
Golding tosses in a few other characters that added little or nothing to the story: Patrick, the arse of a husband, I may have met and hated him before, the obstinate police supervisor/captain who forces “our hero” to go rogue, and the nosy reporter – I’m still not sure what she added to the story.
Lauren’s story was good. I felt like I was with her, but I needed more. Originally, I was going to give Little Darlings four stars, based on Lauren, her torment, and the author’s details and insight into Lauren’s situation. And if she had focused more on that, she would’ve had it. The story needed more and trudging through Harper’s story took away from all of the good.