A new mother in England's Peak District faces a dire threat to her children from someone only she can see. Is she mentally ill, or are there darker forces at work in Golding’s debut novel?
Drowsing on the maternity ward with her newborn twins, Lauren Tranter hears a sinister voice singing. She’s suddenly assaulted by a grotesque woman, who hisses, “I’ll take yours and you can have mine.” When security finds no sign of another person in Lauren’s room, she’s taken for an evaluation. Back at home with the babies, Lauren drifts through her days in a haze of sleeplessness and constant breastfeeding, barely leaving the house and receiving little help from her husband. When she once again reports a sighting of the strange woman outside her house, everyone assumes she's hallucinating. Everyone, that is, except for Joanna Harper, a detective sergeant who tends to follow her instincts and ask permission from superiors later. Then Lauren’s babies are abducted. Maybe there is someone stalking her? But when the babies are recovered and Lauren immediately tries to drown them in the river, she's institutionalized, raving about how they are no longer her boys. While Lauren plots a way to get her own babies back, Jo discovers that a similar case happened 40 years before. Drawing on traditional folklore, fairy tales, and literature about changelings, Golding’s novel will strike true fear into the heart of any parent. At the same time, the novel explores the fierce and desperate love we have for our children, written with beautiful intensity. And the ending, while ambiguous, skillfully walks the line between psychological and supernatural horror. Perhaps, in the end, the novel suggests, it doesn’t matter where the threat comes from. What matters is what we will sacrifice to save the ones we love.
A gorgeous, creepy, modern fairy tale reminiscent of Angela Carter.