Laurie’s father has died and so, with her husband, Ted, and daughter, Susan, in tow, she has returned to the childhood home she left behind so many years ago to settle the estate and hopefully put the house on the market. Laurie has reservations about staying in the house, it’s never been a happy place for her and now there’s the added fact that her father didn’t just die there but actually committed suicide by jumping out of the belvedere window.
Ted and Susan are instantly smitten with the old place, though, and convince her otherwise. It’s only for a little while, after all, and it’ll mean time for Ted to work on his latest play. Susan has even found a friend in the girl next door. But the house holds bad memories for Laurie and the girl next door reminds her just a little too much of a girl who lived there when she was a child. A horrid girl who died on Laurie’s father’s property decades ago.
Even if Laurie and her family were a unified unit, which we soon learn they may not be, the house is enough to begin tearing away at them. Laurie is plagued by memories of her childhood, the girl next door is creepy as all get out, and there are clues around the house that maybe her father was suffering from more than just dementia. It all starts to make Laurie – and even Ted – wonder about her sanity.
Ronald Malfi’s latest is a pretty classic take on the haunted house tale: a creepy old house, inexplicable noises, a mysterious locked room… And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, Little Girls is a solid and scary tale with more than a few twists – some a little more expected than others. It’s utterly satisfying and maybe a little nightmare inducing as well.
8/15 Becky LeJeune
LITTLE GIRLS by Ronald Malfi. Kensington (June 30, 2015). ISBN 978-1617736063. 384p.