Edition 23: Book Review: Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
Like most of us, during the month of October, I enjoy spooky stories, movies, and TV programs. I like to feel the goosebumps, to keep looking over my shoulder at every little noise, to be afraid to turn off the light when I’m reading in bed. So this month, I chose a novel that was recommended in a Top 10 list on Best Horror Movies.com. Their listing described the book as “completely terrifying.” I’m sorry to say that the description did not hold true for me.
Little Girls is a modern story about a woman (Laurie) who travels to a rural town to oversee the sale of her recently deceased (and estranged) father’s estate. Her husband and daughter accompany her as well. As the story progresses, we learn that Laurie did not have a close relationship to her father, and left with her mother at a young age. We also learn about a childhood “friend” named Sadie, who wasn’t a friend at all, but tormented Laurie in very disturbing ways. Sadie died a tragic death on the property as a child , and as Laurie goes through the motions of tying up her father’s business, long-buried memories resurface about Sadie.
Unexplained happenings begin to occur as she gathers details about her father’s untimely death. Laurie hears strange noises, sees shadows, and becomes terrified of the neighbor girl, Abigail, who looks like the reincarnation of the evil Sadie. Her marriage begins to unravel and she fears for her daughter’s safety, while also wondering if she’s as crazy as her father was.
From these things alone, we could have ended up with a more fear-inducing story. But what we got were breadcrumbs of scary spaced out through a ton of description and everyday “toothbrush” moments. Each frightening incident is kind of like an alcohol buzz that wears off long before you have a chance to get drunk. I expected a steady buildup that would keep me turning pages and jumping at shadows. Instead the story dragged until the final few chapters, when things finally ramped up enough to be fairly chilling.
This isn’t to say the book isn’t worth a read. The writing is excellent with fresh, descriptive language and superb editing. The story itself is quite disturbing, especially when some of the secrets toward the end are revealed. By the end, you’re wondering if Laurie is indeed crazy if her fears are real, which is a nice hook to keep you engaged to the last page. But it’s still more of a make-you-squirm story than a “completely terrifying” one.
If you enjoy a more psychological, twisted novel than one that truly scares you, Little Girls is definitely worth a try. Due to the mature content, I’d recommend it for adults only.
Little Girls, by Ronald Malfi
Publisher: Kensington, 2015
Mysti Parker is a wife, mother, and shameless chocoholic. While her first love is romance, including the Tallenmere fantasy romance series and an award-winning historical with EsKape Press, she enjoys writing flash fiction (the weirder the better) and children’s stories. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband, three children and too many pets.