A ghost story. Ghost stories are a Ronald Malfi specialty. His fantastic, Floating Staircase, made people stand up and take notice. The Mourning House, one of my personal favorite novellas, followed in the same powerful footsteps. This month, we receive his latest haunting–Little Girls.
Little Girls follows a mother, Laurie Genarro, whose father has recently passed. She has inherited the large house she left behind as a child when her mother left her father. Her memories of her father are of a big man, a cold man, a quiet man. The house too, holds memories. Memories of the little girl who lived next door, Sadie Russ. The little girl who met her demise in Laurie’s own backyard. When Laurie’s daughter meets a girl named, Abigail, darker memories surface. And these are only the beginning as the true hauntings of her father’s home reveal themselves in this slow burn of ghost story. In this way, Little Girls is reminiscent of Peter Straub’s fine novel, Ghost Story. Here though, we focus on a small group of people as opposed to Straub’s bazillion character tale. And this adds to Malfi’s tight little thread, pulling together a box of secrets and ghosts to reveal the darkness that we on this side of death are capable of.
For me, the joy of reading Ronald’s work is wrapped in his style. While it carries some of the qualities of the aforementioned Straub, Malfi’s power is the colorful strokes he paints with his words:
“…she expected her old home to look different–empty, perhaps, like the molted skin of a reptile left behind in the dirt, as if the house had nothing left to do but wither and die…”
And even in his simpler strokes:
“The tree limbs that overhung the fence waved sleepily in the breeze, throwing moving shadows against the mossy pickets.”
Add this descriptive magic in with the fact that the author can tell one helluva story, incorporate a complex puzzle within, and then manage to sneak up and scare the bejesus out of you, you get one hell of a bang for your buck.
Little Girls is a bit slow in spots, which may lose those readers who like a load of action to keep them glued to the pages, but I found the lulls only added to the tension and unnerving reveals as they came along.
All in all, I give Little Girls 4 stars. This is a must for Malfi fans and a great read for those of you who love classically told ghost stories.
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Little Girls, Information and Synopsis
- File Size:1769 KB
- Print Length:384 pages
- Publisher:Kensington (June 30, 2015)
- Publication Date:June 30, 2015
From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?
Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels
“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
“Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books
“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon
“Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly
“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine
Links to Pre-Order or Purchase
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Ronald Malfi, Biography
Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.
In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.
Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.
Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.
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