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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

My Darling Girl


Narrators: Hillary Huber, Kitty Hendrix

Simon & Schuster Audio

ISBN: 9781668019061

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: 10/03/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)



The New York Times bestselling author of the “otherworldly treat” (People) The Drowning Kind and The Children on the Hill returns with a spine-tingling psychological thriller about a woman who, after taking in her dying, alcoholic mother, begins to suspect demonic possession is haunting her family.


Alison has never been a fan of Christmas. But with it right around the corner and her husband busily decorating their cozy Vermont home, she has no choice but to face it. Then she gets the call.


Mavis, Alison’s estranged mother, has been diagnosed with cancer and has only weeks to live. She wants to spend her remaining days with her daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. But Alison grew up with her mother’s alcoholism and violent abuse and is reluctant to unearth these traumatic memories. Still, she eventually agrees to take in Mavis, hoping that she and her mother could finally heal and have the relationship she’s always dreamed of.


But when mysterious and otherworldly things start happening upon Mavis’s arrival, Alison begins to suspect her mother is not quite who she seems. And as the holiday festivities turn into a nightmare, she must confront just how far she is willing to go to protect her family.








My Review


Jennifer McMahon returns following The Children on the Hill with one of her best, MY DARLING GIRL —a chilling, gripping psychological thriller. A woman agrees to bring her estranged alcoholic and abusive mother into her home. She soon wonders who this woman is in this sinister, twisty, dark, and emotional holiday family drama of suspense and horror.


Set in Vermont, in December and soon to be Christmas. Mark and Alison O'Conner are married and live in an older, historically renovated farmhouse with two children.


Alison is a popular children's author-illustrator of the Moxie series, named after their six-year-old Lab. Her husband Mark is all about Christmas and loves the decorating and festive holiday season— Allison, not so much.


We learn that Alison (Ali Alligator) grew up with an abusive alcoholic mother to her and her brother Ben. Now, her mother is dying of cancer and wants to make amends during her final days and requests to come and live with Allison and her family.


Her brother thinks she is nuts for even considering it. She worries about bringing her mom into their home around the children. But this time, maybe it will help heal their past wounds, so she agrees.


Her mom is well off financially and can afford private care. She has had an assistant, Paul, for the last 15 years who handles her mom's personal and business life, her travel, gallery and museum events, and sales of her artwork. He lives in a carriage house on her mom's property in Woodstock and was always by her side.


At first, her mom is pleasant to everyone, but whenever she is around Alison, she turns into someone different. Sinister and evil begin happening, and she wonders if she is devil-possessed.


She begins reading all these books about how to break the spells and cure her mom. However, this leads Alison to do weird things, and she is a bundle of nerves, trying to protect her family from the terrifying monster when she has a book due and cannot get it together.


Soon, her family thinks she is the crazy one because Mavis acts differently around everyone else. The girls think she is a wonderful grandmother. But then she is afraid her mother is demon-possessed, and she will pass it down to her. Her brother wants nothing to do with Mavis.


All the while, Mark is involved in the holiday festivities, Izzy is interested in making a film, Mavis is manipulative and scary, and Alison's life has turned into a nightmare.


When she thinks she has solved the problem by protecting her family, the author gives you a final jaw-dropping shocking twist!


Told from Alison's POV, alternating between the present and her childhood, MY DARLING GIRL is a heart-breaking, character-driven family drama and a suspenseful, creepy psychological thriller. The author explores both complex mother-daughter relationships and childhood trauma.


No one does atmospheric, spine-chilling, horror, mystery, suspense, evil, and haunting mixed with dark humor better than Jennifer McMahon! Even though I am not a huge horror, supernatural, demon-possessed fan, I enjoy the author's writing and storylines, and MY DARLING GIRL was both emotional and scary.


MY DARLING GIRL would make a perfect Halloween read, even though it is centered around Christmas. I highly recommend this one to fans of this genre and the author. I read in two sittings, and it was challenging to put down. Great characterization!


Thanks to Gallery Books/Scout Press and NetGalley for the gifted copy. I know the audiobook will be spectacular narrated by Hillary Huber (fav) and Kitty Hendrix.



@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4.5 Stars rounded to 5 Stars

Pub Date: Oct 3, 2023






Praise


Twisty, propulsive, character-driven, and hair-raisingly scary novels are true rarities, but Jennifer McMahon manages this singular feat with My Darling Girl.”

—Nick Cutter, bestselling author of The Troop


"Jennifer McMahon takes an all-too-relatable idea—who hasn't been driven a bit mad by their mother?—and deftly twists it into a tale of supernatural suspense and psychological thrills. My Darling Girl is the rare book that delivers both chilling scares and genuine emotion—I got goosebumps from both."

—Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Network and Cutting Teeth



"When your estranged, abusive, and dying mother comes to spend her final days at your house and that's only the start of your problems ... My Darling Girl is a thrilling, heady mix of family dynamics and one hell of a clever and page-turning possession story. And scary. Like I couldn't read it before going to bed scary. Good luck, reader."

—Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts









About the Author

Photo credit: Zella McMahon



I’m the New York Times Bestselling author of eleven suspense novels including The Winter People and Promise Not To Tell. My latest, The Children on the Hill, will be out in April. I’ve written about ghosts, serial killers, shape shifting monsters, an evil fairy king, a kidnapping rabbit, and now, a terrifying swimming pool.


My first novel was, at its heart, a ghost story. That novel drew me to write about the unexplained, the dark side, the fears that keep me awake at night, the way the past haunts the present. When studying writing in college and grad school, again and again I was told: Write what you know. But over the years, I have developed my own mantra, one which is so vital to who I am and what I do that I had it tattooed on my wrist: Write what scares you.


I live in Vermont (in a creepy old Victorian on a hill) with my partner, Drea, and our daughter, Zella. When I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time exploring the dark Vermont woods and seeking out haunted places, real and imagined. WEBSITE


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