My Darling Girl

Gallery/Scout. Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781668019061. $28.99. HORROR
A fraught bond between mother and daughter takes a demonic turn in this compelling work of psychological horror. Alison has a complicated relationship with her mother, Mavis, who is addicted to alcohol. Subjected throughout her childhood to both physical and psychological abuse that included the cruelest of tricks, which escalated after her father’s suicide when she was young, Alison is now focused on her husband, her two daughters, and their cozy 1890s farmhouse in Vermont. She is a heartbreakingly relatable protagonist, dealing with the effects of the trauma of her youth while working hard to be a good wife and mother. But, as one Christmas approaches, Alison receives a call informing her that Mavis has only weeks to live, and she wants to spend them with Alison and her family. Alison ultimately agrees, attempting cautious optimism yet unable to shake suspicion and paranoia that mounts as increasingly troubling incidents befall those around her.
VERDICT With detail that is simultaneously luscious and eerie and a story that is at once familiar and yet possessed by something unnamable, this novel won’t disappoint fans of McMahon (The Children on the Hill) or first-time readers.
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