March Wrap Up

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I can’t believe we’re a quarter of the way through the year already!

This month I have read 10 books. It is my lowest number since joining bookstagram but the quality is what is actually important and it’s been a month where almost every book I’ve read was amazing.

  1. ‘The Woman Inside’ by E.G Scott ⭐⭐⭐ – This debut thriller about a couple who have it all on the surface but are living a life built on lies and secrets  was sadly a let down for me. I had been highly anticipating this book but found it slow and underwhelming. Even the big twist couldn’t make me interested in how things turned out for the characters in this book.  Published August 8th
  2. ‘Only Daughter’ by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This gripping tale of secrets, lies, betrayal and devastating revenge blew me away. It had me on the edge of my seat and reading well past bedtime as I found it impossible to put this book down. I’ve been a fan of this author’s work since I first discovered her last year, but this is her best book yet and one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year.
  3. ‘The Evidence Against You’ by Gillian McAllister ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This book was a complex, multi layered story about love, grief, family, truth, lies, secrecy, pain and betrayal. It is also a story about living life in a prison, though not necessarily one made of bars with guards at the doors, institutionalisation and what happens to the family of victims of a crime and those who are convicted of a crime. It is intelligently written and thought provoking with flawed characters who are the key to the story being so compelling. It pulls you in so you’re completely immersed in Izzy’s search for the truth and I was so desperate to know what happened that I forced my eyelids open and stayed up until 4 am to finish it.  Published April 18th.
  4. ‘Beautiful Bad’ by Annie Ward ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This absorbing psychological thriller begins with  a chilling 911 call in which a woman pleads for help to hurry as a child shrieks in the background… In dual timelines we are then told the story of Maddie and her husband Ian’s relationship while she undergoes therapy for anxiety and the clock counts down to The Day Of The Killing.  The eerie ending of this book is one I’m still thinking about.
  5. ‘The Dare’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – The third book in the Detective Natalie Ward series, The Dare is another unputdownable thriller. I devoured this book in one sitting, on the edge of my seat as the detective and her team raced to find the person who was kidnapping and killing teenage girls. It is so well written that there was no clear suspect and I was racing to the end to find out who had been terrorising the town. This is a must read for crime fiction and thriller lovers. Published April 25th.
  6. ‘Finding Dorothy’ by Elizabeth Letts ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – As a life long Oz fanatic I loved this magnificent fictional tale of the story behind the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  from the perspective of Maud Gage Baum, wife of author Frank L. Baum. In dual timelines we see her meet Judy Garland and watch the iconic movie being made while also learning of her life, how the couple met and the story of how Frank was inspired to write the story that is still beloved by millions.
  7. ‘And They You Were Gone’ by R. J. Jacobs ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – What a breathtaking roller-coaster ride! The author has written a compulsive, thrilling and addictive debut novel that is impossible to put down. It was filled with surprising twists and turns and had me on the edge of my seat until the end.
  8. ‘Things In Jars’ by Jessie Kidd  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bridie Devine is a detective in Victorian London is charged with finding the kidnapped daughter of a baronet that isn’t supposed to exist. Bridie finds herself drawn deeper into the murky world of curiosities, abnormalities, greed and corruption. This mesmerising novel took me completely by surprise. Ms Kidd is a remarkable writer who has woven an emotive and sorrowful tale alongside one full of mystery, charm and suspense. One of the best books I’ve read this year.  Published April 4th
  9. ‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson   ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – The fourth book in The Collector series did not disappoint. As the Crimes Against Children investigate the disappearance of eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer they find evidence linking it to a string of missing young girls going back decades, including that of Agent Brandon Eddison’s sister Faith, who went missing 25 years ago. This was a compelling thriller that I didn’t want to put down, but also didn’t want to finish, as I was enjoying it so much. The tension never waned and surged as they learned their case was even more disturbing than they’d originally believed. A great end to a fantastic series. Published May 21st 
  10. ‘Betray Her’ by Caroline England  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Jo and Kate are two very different women who have been friends ever since their first day at bording school twenty years ago. Told in the present day and flashbacks to the friends’ time at St Lukes and the years since, we learn that all is not quite as it seems. From the start there are hints that their time at the all-girls boarding school was far from happy and that they never discuss it. Gradually, we learn the truth of those tumultuous years, along with other heart stopping revelations that unveil their closely guarded secrets and change their lives forever. From the moment I began reading I was hooked.  The author of this book has found herself a new fan and I would highly recommend this tantalising novel. Published September 24th.

So that is what I read in March. I had hoped to have finished ‘The Stranger Beside Me’, which is the book I’m reading as part of #MurderMonday , but unfortunately that looks like it will be my first book finished in April. Choosing a favourite this months is incredibly hard but I think the title has to go to ‘Finding Dorothy’ because it is not only a fantastic novel, but is about my favourite film.

What did you read in March? Have you read any of these books or are they on your tbr list? Comment below and tell me.

 

*Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture, Thomas & Mercer, Little, Brown Book Group UK, Crooked Lane Books, Quercus, Canongate Books and the authors for the ARCs.

**All books are available now unless otherwise stated. To read full reviews please see previous posts except for The Evidence Against Me and Finding Dorothy which haven’t yet been published.

‘Betray Her’ by Caroline England ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Best Friends forever.

That’s the pact you made.

You’d do anything for her.

And you have.

She’s always had it all.

If you could take it for yourself….would you?

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Caroline England for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the moment I began reading I was hooked. Betray Her is a story of friendship, love, secrets, lies and betrayal that exudes nail-biting tension and foreboding throughout.

Jo and Kate have been best friends ever since their first day at St Lukes twenty years ago despite their very different backgrounds. Jo has always felt like the working class girl from a Barnsley Estate who didn’t deserve her place amongst the rich girls at boarding school. Two years ago she lost her husband suddenly leaving her mourning not only him but their dream of having a child. Kate was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth and waited on hand and foot. She has lived a charmed life. She is enjoys a blissful marriage with her rich and successful husband, has a beautiful little girl, and is the epitome of the perfect wife and mother.

Told in the present day with flashbacks to the friends’ time at St Lukes and the years since, we learn that all is not quite as it seems. From the start there are hints that their time at the all-girls boarding school was far from happy and that they never discuss it. Gradually, we learn the truth of those tumultuous years, along with other heart stopping revelations that unveil their closely guarded secrets and change their lives forever.

This was the first book I’d read by Caroline England and she has found herself a new fan. I was on the edge of my seat from the first page right up until the breathtaking finale. The story was fantastically written in such an authentic voice that I vacillated between who I rooted for and who I deemed the villain many times, and was never quite sure what would happen next. The detailed descriptions had me feeling like I was right there alongside the narrator feeling and seeing everything she did. A tantalising book that I would highly recommend.

Out September 24th

‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson  ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight year old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza–so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison–and the entire Crimes Against Children team–since its inception.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Dot Hutchinson for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw that this book was available to read now on NetGalley I was so excited. I have loved Dot Hutchinson’s the Collector series ever since reading The Butterfly Collector and have been eagerly awaiting the fourth installment since last summer.

When the team get the call that eight year old Brooklyn Mercer disappeared on her way home from school they immediately know this will be one that affects them even more than usual. Brooklyn has disappeared the week before the twenty fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Faith Eddison, the younger sister of Agent Bran Eddison. Like Brooklyn Faith was eight years old when she disappeared on her way home from school and the girls look so alike they could be twins.

The team receive information from a retired detective possibly linking Brooklyn’s disappearance not only to that of Faith Eddison, but a number of young girls of the same description that have gone missing in various cities over a number of decades. With Bran increasingly struggling to hold it together Eliza is heightened in her resoluteness to not only find Brooklyn before it’s too late, but to solve this case and bring his little sister home at last.

The Collector series focuses on the Crimes Against Children division of the FBI and it’s team of agents. Each book has focused on a different team member using their histories, strengths and weaknesses in relation to the case they are trying to solve and having that particular agent as the narrator. For me this makes each book seem distinct, and almost like a stand-alone, while also having the familiarity of a series. Being so distinct you could read any book in this series as a stand-alone.The author provides the information a new reader needs to understand the dynamics of different relationships and certain events, or that will refresh the memory of someone who has read the previous books. That being said I always think you enjoy any book in a series even more if you’ve read the previous books.

This time it was the turn of Eliza Sterling to tell the story. Eliza transferred to the team four years earlier after working with them from a local field office when they investigated another case. She is known to get so focused on cases that she forgets to eat or drink unless instructed and will even be so engrossed in her work that she stays at her desk long into the night and sometimes even until the next morning. Each team member has a different strength based on what they’ve gone through in their lives and Eliza’s is that she is the person who is best at dealing with the families of the perpetrator and reminding them this isn’t their fault and they weren’t to have known what their loved one was hiding from them.

After waiting so long for this book the only disappointment was that it is the last in the series. This was a compelling thriller that I didn’t want to put down but also didn’t want to finish as I was enjoying it so much. The tension never waned and surged as they learned their case was even more disturbing than they’d originally believed. Finally learning more about both Faith and her disappearance after knowing so little in the previous books was something that was heartbreaking but great as a reader. Bran’s refusal to even discuss Faith has shown how deeply he’s affected by not knowing what happened to her and I had always hoped we’d someday find out more and that he and his family would get the answers they’ve spent so long searching for. I enjoyed the dynamic between Eliza and Bran as they switched between colleagues and lovers, and was rooting for not only the case to be solved, but them to survive such a traumatic and testing experience. I also liked that yet again I could find no obvious suspect for the crimes and that I was grasping for clues along with the agents.

The Vanishing Season is an absorbing thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys thrillers and crime fiction. While I’m sad there won’t be any more stories from the Crimes Against Children division, and would like to use this opportunity to implore the author to change her mind and continue the series, I am excited to see what Ms. Hutchinson writes next.

Out May 21st

‘And Then You Were Gone’ by R. J. Jacobs ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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How can you save someone else if you can’t save yourself?

After years of learning to manage her bipolar disorder, Emily Firestone finally has it under control.  Even better, her life is coming together: she’s got a great job, her own place, and a boyfriend, Paolo, who adores her. So when Paolo suggests a weekend sailing trip, Emily agrees – wine, water, and the man she loves. What could be better? But when Emily wakes the morning after they set sail, the boat is still adrift…and Paolo is gone.

A strong swimmer, there’s no way Paolo drowned, but Emily is at a loss for any other explanation. Where else could he have gone? And why? As the hours and days pass by, each moment marking Paolo’s disappearance, Emily’s hard-won stability begins to slip.

But when Emily uncovers evidence suggesting Paolo was murdered, the investigation throws her mania into overdrive, even as she becomes a person of interest in her own personal tragedy. To clear her name, Emily must find the truth – but can she hold on to her own sanity in the process?

Thank you to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and R. J. Jacobs for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Emily Firestone finally has her life together. After years battling to find an even keel she has her bipolar disorder under control and is happy: she is working as a psychologist with children, her own apartment, and is madly in love with her boyfriend, Paolo.

When Paolo suggests a weekend sailing Emily ignores her fears of water and agrees to the trip. After a perfect first night she wakes to find him gone. She alerts the police but is certain that as a strong swimmer he couldn’t have drowned and that he didn’t just up and leave her. When the Police declare Emily the only suspect in his death she knows finding the truth is the only way to clear her name, a task that seems impossible as her life falls apart piece by piece.

But then one of Paolo’s coworkers contacts her saying she has evidence that Paolo was murdered by someone close to him. Increasingly desperate to clear her name, Emily tries to find further proof but finds her mania intruding her thoughts more and more as she races against the clock to not only uncover what really happened to Paolo but to also keep her grip on reality.

This book was a breathtaking roller-coaster ride. R. J. Jacobs has written a compulsive, thrilling and unpredictable debut novel that I couldn’t put down.

Emily was an unreliable protagonist but also one I loved. Seeing her battle against her paranoia was riveting. She herself couldn’t trust the truth and accuracy of her recollection of events or what she was thinking which added an extra layer of uncertainty to whether or not you could believe her version of events, while also making her a character that is interesting to read. The author’s background as a psychologist shines through in these intricate details of Emily’s character and her bipolar II. The expressive language used to describe her thoughts and feelings enabled me to understand her and put myself in her shoes even though I have never lived with her condition. I also found the tidbits of information about how and why the brain works the way it does really interesting and it helped me understand mental health in a new way.

And Then You Were Gone is a fabulous psychological thriller that keeps you guessing as you are never quite sure what to believe. Filled with with surprising twists, turns and revelations this is a book that has you on the edge of your seat until the end. R. J. Jacobs is a talented new voice in fiction and I’m excited to see what he writes next.

Out now.

‘Things In Jars’ by Jess Kidd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

Things In Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.

Thank you to NetGalley, Canongate Books and Jess Kidd for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

This mesmerising novel took me completely by surprise. Ms Kidd is a remarkable writer who has woven an emotive and sorrowful tale alongside one full of mystery, charm and suspense.

It begins with a mysterious and chilling prologue that details Christabel Berwick’s abduction. A child who is beautiful yet repulsive. and who evokes strange feelings and fear in those who come into contact with her. All her short life she has been hidden away and constrained, seeing the stars for the first time as she’s taken from her Father’s house that night.

Bridie Devine, a renowned female detective in an era where it was still seen as a job for men. She is asked to take on an urgent case: the kidnapping of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick’s six-year-old daughter Christabel who was taken the night before. The baronet is thought to be childless and his representative reveals that Christabel was secretly kept in a wing in the house because of her “uniqueness”. Her nurse, who is one of only four people that know the child exists, is also missing. Did she have something to do with the kidnapping or is she another innocent victim in danger?

In an era where curiosities and abnormalities are collected there’s a high price to be found for a unique child and Bridie’s investigation draws her deeper into the murky world of curiosities, abnormalities, greed and corruption. But will she be able to find Christabel before she’s lost to the highest bidder?

Bridie Devine was a fantastic character and protagonist. She is a woman who refuses to conform to the rules and restrictions of the Victorian era and has carved out an independent life for herself doing something she seems to have been born to do. I loved her witt and no nonsense attitude, her love for those deemed unlovable and her determination to help those in need. Her conversations with the ghost of a dead boxer, Ruby, who claims to have known her when he was alive, gave the book some of it’s funniest and most emotional moments. This was a book filled with an array of colourful and interesting characters, along with some evil and despicable ones too. Christabel was a complex and cryptic character: an amalgamation of the beauty and sorrow of the mermaid yet also a terrifying and malevolent creature, and a mix of many opposing traits all inside one little girl. She was brilliantly written and genuinely scared me many times.

I’ve read some great book so far this year but this was by far one of the best. I loved that the language was raw and witty yet poetic and beguiling and the way folklore is combined with crime in a way you don’t hesitate to believe. This was my first book by this author but she’s become an instant favourite. I will definitely be reading what she writes next. Things In Jars is a magnificent, captivating and unforgettable novel that touches your soul. I can’t recommend it enough.

Out April 4th.

‘The Dare’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Jane’s daughter is a good girl. What’s she hiding?

When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come home straight from school, as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm.

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward whose daughter Leigh is the same age as Savannah. Soon Natalie’s worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.

Evidence points towards a local recluse, but  just as the net is closing in around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing.

As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours.

But Natalie isn’t quick enough for this killer, and she is devastated to find Harriet’s body on a fly tip a day later.

Caught up in the case, she takes her eye off her own daughter and when Leigh goes missing after school she knows she must be in terrible danger. The clock is ticking for Natalie. Can she catch this killer before her little girl becomes the next victim?

 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Carol Wyer has delivered another compulsive and unputdownable thriller. Secretive teenagers, social media and crazy dares are a deadly mix in this riveting novel.

Jane Hopkins is running late home from work. She likes to be there when thirteen-year-old Savannah arrives home from school, not like her own teenage years as a ‘latchkey kid’. When she arrives she’s surprised to find no trace of her daughter and no answer when she calls her phone. Savannah always comes straight home from school so Jane is immediately concerned. After checking with the few friends she’s made since they moved to the area and finding they haven’t seen her since school ended, Jane alerts the police.

Detective Natalie Ward is put in charge of the case but everyone’s worst fears are realised the next morning when the teenager’s body is discovered in a  nearby park. As the murder investigation begin and secrets the teenager was hiding begin to come to light another young girl disappears. When the second teenager is also found dead it is confirmed they’re dealing with a parent’s worst nightmare. But this is a killer who leaves few clues and could be any one of a number of suspects. When her own teenage daughter, Leigh, goes missing the hunt becomes personal for Natalie. Can she catch the killer before it’s too late?

The Dare is the third installment in the fantastic Detective Natalie Ward series and is the best yet. If you haven’t read the other books you could read this as a stand alone as the author provides enough snippets of information for you to understand the characters, their relationships and motivations. However I’d recommend you read them simply because they are great crime fiction.

Told from multiple points of view, the book opens as a mystery man with a large snake tattoo  on his torso is watching school children pass by. He talks about the snake having not been fed for a while and promises that it will soon be sated. The chilling tone of this chapter was repeated each time we met the adult killer. His conversations with his tattoo and his view of it as a separate entity, the thing that needed him to kill and feed it’s desire, made him seem more frightening and maleficent and left me with a chill down my spine. Later in the book there were some flashback chapters from his childhood where we see he was ridiculed at school and ignored at home. Feeling powerless we see what lead him to commit these awful acts and why he sees the snake as synonymous with his actions.

One of the best things for me about this book is the author wrote it so well that there was no clear suspect. There were multiple connections between the victims and possible candidates, but each time it seemed we knew who it was something would come along to make you doubt it was them. This uncertainty had me racing to the end to find out who had been terrorising the town and if Natalie’s daughter was found safe.

Ms Wyer has a talent for writing stories that get to the heart of what we as parents dread and striking horror in our hearts. As a mother to two teenagers I could relate to the stresses and trials the mothers in this story faced, how the children who once told us everything now hide things from us and we’re treading that fine line between giving them space to be independent and making sure they’re safe. Online safety is something we’re learning to navigate with this generation of teenagers and there were things this book made me consider that I’d never thought of before (I’ll not say more as I don’t want to give away spoilers).

I was on the edge of my seat as I devoured this book in almost one sitting. This is a must read for crime fiction and thriller fans. The only problem now is waiting for the next installment, one I’m personally hoping finally gives us more clues about Natalie’s elusive estranged sister.

Out April 25th.

‘Little Darlings’ by Melanie Golding ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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THE TWINS ARE CRYING.

THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING.

LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting…

After a traumatic birth, Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.

But there’s nothing on the CCTV. No one remembers seeing a woman come close to Lauren, or her babies. They don’t believe anyone was ever there.

And yet, Lauren keeps seeing the woman and is convinced her babies are in danger. With every step she takes to keep her children safe, Lauren sinks deeper into paranoia and fear. From  the stark loneliness of returning home after birth, to the confines of the psychiatric unit, Lauren’s desperation increases as no one will listen t her. But here’s the question: is she mad, or does she know something we don’t?

Thank you to NetGalley, HQ and Melanie Golding for the chance to read and review this novel.

This book is such a triumph that I can’t believe it’s the author’s debut novel. Deliciously sinister, twisted, dark and unsettling, this beautifully written book starts with a letter to the reader that tells us about changeling folklore and how the child-friendly, Disneyfied Fairy Tales we know today are very different from their terrifying origins that were used to scare children rather than entertain them. Through the main character this book emerges you into every mother’s worst nightmare and chills you to the bone.

‘Choose one,’ said the woman, ‘choose one or I’ll take them both…I can make sure they look the same.’

Lauren Tranter is feeling traumatised after the difficult birth of her twin boys, Morgan and Riley and feeling overwhelmed with the task of caring for the two tiny infants alone in the hospital. In the middle of the night Lauren a woman in the supposedly empty bed next to hers singing an eerie song. Lauren decides to ask her to stop and is confronted with a strange, ugly woman with two babies of her own. She tells Lauren both sets of twins are charmed, only hers are cursed with darkness. To balance this out she demands they exchange a twin and that if Lauren refuses she’ll take both and make sure the replacements look the same. Lauren, aghast and overcome with fierce maternal protection, locks herself with in the bathroom with the twins and calls the police. But hospital security say no one was there and there’s nothing on the CCTV so Lauren is referred to a psychiatrist. Despite this, DS Jo Harper can’t shake the feeling that there is more to this case than meets the eye.

Back at home Lauren lives in fear that the woman is going to take her children grows but no one believes her, not even her husband, Patrick. She refuses to leave the twins alone even for a minute, won’t leave the house, is scared to sleep and is just trying to survive each day. Patrick and her friends become increasingly worried about her. Eventually, she takes the boys to the park but the outing ends in disaster when she falls asleep on a bench and wakes to find the boys gone. Lauren’s elation at their recovery soon turns to horror when she realises these babies are not Morgan and Riley. The woman has carried out her threat to take them both. But everyone else is fooled and her desperate attempts to convince them leads to her being sent to a psychiatric unit.

At the psychiatric unit Lauren is filled with panic and fear.She knows she has to convince them she isn’t insane, that she doesn’t think the babies are her children so that they will let her go and she can save the real Morgan and Riley. So she tries to say the right things and act like she isn’t full of revulsion for the things that have replaced her perfect boys. When the police investigation finds no suspects everyone seems sure that Lauren is suffering from mental illness. Everyone except DS Harper. She still feels sure there’s something they’re missing and begins investigating various leads that could prove she’s right. But is she being fooled by a sick and unstable mother who is a danger to her children or the only person who believes a mother who is innocent and desperately trying to save them?

There’s some books you seem to just instantly connect with for one reason or another and this was one of those for me. The letter at the start, the ominous prologue and even the setting, were reasons this novel resonated with me so quickly. The book is set in my hometown of Sheffield and while I’ve read books set in places I’ve been or know a little, I have never before read a book set in my hometown. It added an extra layer of enjoyment when reading for me. I loved that I could picture the hospital Lauren gives birth in as I gave birth there myself and all the places mentioned are so familiar that I could picture them clearly.

One of the things I loved about this book was the uncertainty if Lauren was crazy or the fairy tale was real. I vacillated on this point many times and still can’t decide which I believe or which would be the least unsettling. Sometimes I find such ambiguity ruins a book for me but in this case I thought it enhanced the story. Afterall, this is a story based on a fairy tale and they require you to suspend your disbelief at the impossible, so it isn’t a stretch for me to believe that Lauren was telling the truth. But then the changeling folklore began as an explanation for the impossible, for something that is now a recognised mental illness, and therefore it is also not hard to believe that this is the explanation for what she is seeing. Overall, I did like Lauren. She did whatever she could to protect and save her children in her mind and while she seemed weak and paralysed by fear at the start, she found strength and fought her fears as the book went on. DS Jo Harper was also a great character, probably my favourite. Her back story gave substance to her actions that you could tell were often emotional and I liked that when she believed in something she pursued it, even if it got her in trouble. Patrick is another matter. I couldn’t stand him and for most of the book I wanted to reach through the pages and slap him as hard as possible. His complaints about losing sleep, complaining he can’t function without it and she knew that before the babies made me so angry. He was anything but the helpful father Lauren expected and my heart went out to her as she realised the man she married wasn’t who she thought he was. Although he did seem to step up after the babies were abducted his earlier actions and other revelations meant that even this didn’t endear him to me.

Little Darlings is a spine-tingling, absorbing and spectacular novel. Filled with clever twists, shocking revelations, edge of your seat suspense and unnerving changeling folklore this is a book that will stay with you. Melanie Golding is an exciting new voice in fiction and has created a book everyone will be talking about.

Out May 2nd