Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-087-3
No, this is not a kinky love story. Megan Hart’s Little Secrets is marketed as horror, but it is more of a supernatural thriller kind of horror. There is no gore, the chills come from the slow build-up of tension and how sometimes what seems to be the most mundane things in our lives can have a terrifying dark side.
The premise is a familiar one. Ginny and her husband Sean buy a new big house to start anew after her miscarriage almost tore them apart for good. She is pregnant again, and the two of them are determined to make things work this time around. But it is not long before she starts hearing and seeing things. Sean is, predictably, busy with classes and such, leaving Ginny, currently unemployed, a lot of time to dwell on what could have been and such. Slowly, her resentments carried over from her past marital crisis bleed over and blend into her current stress and tension. Is the house really haunted, or is she just slowly going crazy? When she learns that the previous family that stayed in that house had a girl who went missing, she wonders whether that girl is haunting the house.
Megan Hart always has a gorgeous, evocative narrative style, and she uses it to great advantage here. This one is a slow but mesmerizing read – I can’t look aside because the tension is unbearable. The author slowly builds up the atmosphere, and even when I am expecting the whole missing girl thing to come to light, I’m still taken by surprise – in a good way – at the direction the author chose to take with that particular plot element.
Ginny is an interesting protagonist. She is not automatically nice or bitter, there are many facets to her that make her seem real. A big part of the “scares” here doesn’t come from loud sounds or creepy faces in the mirror. Instead, it is all about the fear of losing the child one is carrying, the fear of losing someone you love, or worse, forgetting why you love that person in the first place as the warmer feelings are slowly taken over by frustration, boredom, and even resentment of the familiar.
Little Secrets is not exactly groundbreaking, as there are many things here that readers of scary big house stories would be familiar with, and there are some red herrings that are a bit too obvious. But it is a good chiller of a read because the emotions feel real and, hence, I can relate to the heroine’s fears and terrors. The pacing is good, the narrative is solid, and I’ve a good time with this one as a result.