Lauren Tranter is a young exhausted and emotional new Mum, recuperating in hospital after giving birth to lovely twin boys Riley and Morgan. In a fuzzy world of sleep-deprivation, she thinks she hears a woman in the bed next to her also nursing twins, however the bed turns out to be empty. Shortly afterwards, a bedraggled woman turns up on the maternity ward and Lauren recognises her as the mystery woman from the next bed. Things go bad very quickly when the intruder tries to steal Lauren’s twins in an awful episode that finds the new Mum locked in the ward toilet with her terrified babies, calling the emergency services and begging for help.
There’s no woman to be found by the time help arrives, and Lauren’s experience is chalked up to a mental health breakdown. The next morning, Police Officer Jo Harper spots the case on the overnight logs and although she’s told there’s nothing to follow up on, she has a gut instinct that all is not ok and decides to do a little investigation before closing the case down.
A few weeks later, and Lauren is still struggling with the aftermath of her hospital trauma, not to mention managing with two brand new babies and a husband (Patrick) who is all but useless, and not even bothering to hide the fact. Strange things are happening to Lauren, little unwanted gifts being left for her on her doorstep and she keeps seeing the woman from the hospital hanging around outside. However when she tries to track her down, or sends Patrick after her, the woman is nowhere to be found. Bullied by Patrick into facing the outside world, Lauren goes to meet some friends with new babies and afterwards, falls asleep on a bench in the sunshine. When she wakes, a short time later – her babies have gone.
Jo Harper is called to the scene and knows that all is not as it should be. Determined to find out what the hell is going on while being very much restricted by her superiors attempting to clamp-down on the police budget, she calls on her journalist friend, and obvious crush, Amy, to help her out – leading to some interesting characters and situations.
This is a really clever book – there are two avenues that Melanie Goulding takes us down and it’s never quite clear which one, either, or both that we’re going down. There is a strong focus on postpartum depression and mental health issues, sitting side by side with some supernatural elements that Lauren is obsessing about. Are the strange events actually real or just a result of Lauren’s delusion?
I enjoyed this book – I took to the characters quickly (well, most of them with a few obvious exceptions), and I thought it was creepy and clever. While everything was tied up nicely – there was still some ambiguity that allows you an element of believe in what you will…so if you like black and white endings spelled out for you, then you might not like it as much as I did. I thought the fierceness of Lauren’s protectiveness towards her babies was conveyed perfectly, and the treatment of women with postpartum issues was highlighted, which is a rarity. I give this book 5 out of 5.