cover image Little Girls

Little Girls

Ronald Malfi. Kensington, $15 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-61773-606-3

In this pallid horror novel set in present-day Maryland, trauma survivor Laurie and her spouse and daughter are drawn back to her estranged father’s house after his sudden death. Soon Laurie must deal with awful memories and hidden secrets in a horror story that never feels particularly terrifying. Malfi (December Park) methodically goes down the list of genre tropes (returning to a place of trauma, remaining in the house against all wisdom, a malevolent spirit, possible insanity, a cheating and money-grubbing spouse, etc.) without bringing anything new. By the time the secret is revealed (itself a clichéd moment), there’s no terror, just revulsion as readers learn how awful Laurie’s father was. The characters are stock figures, making it hard to care about the threat of Laurie’s cruel childhood friend, who has seemingly been resurrected in a new body. It’s a collection of familiar set pieces instead of a story, without enough freshness or development to engage the reader. (July)