To start off with, I rarely post book reviews. There have been a couple in my stack as of late, however, that are literally so mind-numbingly good that I actually can’t pass up the opportunity.
On deck for this Post Mortem: Little Girls by Ronald Malfi. To begin with, Little Girls is an adult horror title, which for me turns out to be exactly the sort of medicine I needed as I’m approaching a writing slump. Given that I’ve been trying to feed myself as much YA horror as possible to extract myself from said slump, this title served as a violent reminder of the whys and wherefores of choosing to deal with anything dark whatsoever: it went from sort of bleak and grey to pitch black in a few short chapters.
I seem to be finding myself in a funk of mediocre YA horror that lacks the punch and gusto of the truly disturbing: the result is the occasional vacation into the truly dark stuff that is nebulous enough when it comes to giving you answers that you’re left questioning what’s real and what’s not and that’s just perfect. Just. Bloody. Perfect.
There is a rule when it comes to the truly monstrous, of which I am a firm believer: withhold the really grotesque as long as you can to build anticipation, and if you can keep the reader guessing as long as possible, you force them into a sort of “I want to know but I really don’t but oh yes I do,” so they keep reading.
A+ Ronald Malfi. This book was disturbing enough that I couldn’t put it down. Rather, I plodded onward with sick fascination, hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and boy, did the author deliver.
Post Mortem: Little Girls
Little Girls revolves around Laurie — now an adult — who returns to her childhood home following her father’s death to purge the place of its contents and put it on the market so she can dispense with the place and its memories once and for all. She brings her husband Ted and her daughter Susan with her, but Ted’s got his secrets, and Susan is alone for the summer and in need of a playmate.
The house has fallen to disrepair, and though its been several years since she’s visited the property, much less spoken to her father (who suffered dementia in his later life), it becomes apparent early on that beyond his apparent suicide, there are other things leftover from Laurie’s childhood that have lingered.
The little girl from next door, for example, who claims to be staying with her aunt and uncle, who bears a striking resemblance to another little girl who died with Laurie was just a child — Sadie Russ. An accident: Sadie Russ fell through the greenhouse roof.
Over Laurie’s acquaintance with Sadie started normally enough, but somewhere along the lines, Sadie… changed.
If “just a little haunting” wasn’t enough of a seal of approval, you’ll have to take my word on this because I don’t want to offer spoilers in regards to the darker subject matter: it’s not just suicide, not just accidental death, and not just a ghost. It’s bleak, it dips into a little insanity, and Laurie’s degeneration is a beat and a pulse when you see it. Then you’ll spend the rest of the book questioning both her and yourself.
Great twist, surprising in places, and worthy of an “oh shit” or six.
About Little Girls by Ronald Malfi:Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
Published by Kensington on June 30th 2015
Check it out: Goodreads
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?Buy on Amazon