Darling Girls

A heart-pounding suspense novel about sisters, secrets, love and murder that will keep you turning the pages

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Pub Date 25 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 25 Apr 2024

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A thrilling page-turner about sisterhood, secrets, love and murder by Sally Hepworth, the New York Times bestselling author of The Soulmate and The Mother-in-Law.

It’s not just secrets buried at Wild Meadows.

For as long as they can remember, Jessica, Norah and Alicia have been told how lucky they are. Rescued from their own family tragedies, they were raised by a loving foster mother on an idyllic farming estate and given an elusive second chance for a happy family life.

But the girls’ childhood wasn’t quite the fairy tale everyone thinks it was. And when a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the three foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses.

It’s time for them to return home as adults. The only question is are they innocent victims or the prime suspects for murder?

With darkly comic timing and insidiously twisting plots, Sally Hepworth’s novels are guaranteed to keep you turning the pages . . .

Authors love Sally Hepworth:

'Completely compulsive' - Jane Harper

'Women’s fiction at its finest' - Liane Moriarty

'Smart suspenseful, brimming with secrets' - Kate Morton

'Clever, chilling and beautifully crafted’ - Adele Parks

Reviewers love Sally Hepworth:

'Very sensitively told' - Daily Mail

'Compels from the first page' - Heat

'Stunningly clever' - People

Readers love Sally Hepworth:

***** 'I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down!'

***** 'Twists and turns from start to finish!!'

***** 'Suspenseful, and twisty, the most fantastically compulsive reading'

***** 'I was gripped from start to finish and I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough'

A thrilling page-turner about sisterhood, secrets, love and murder by Sally Hepworth, the New York Times bestselling author of The Soulmate and The Mother-in-Law.

It’s not just secrets buried at Wild...

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ISBN 9781035038879
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Featured Reviews

Sally Hepworth just keeps getting better and better. I loved her last book, so I jumped at the opportunity to read this one on Netgalley. I am so grateful to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review the book.

Norah, Jessica and Alicia consider themselves sisters, tied together by an unshakable bond which is not biologically-based. All three of them were at one point foster children at Wild Meadows, the home of Miss Fairchild, whose narcissistic (and sometimes sadistic) behaviour took a terrible toll on the three girls. Not to mention, the babies...

Years later, all three are young women, but damaged from their childhoods in noticeable ways. What remains undamaged is their bond of sisterhood.

Unfortunately, after human remains are found on the Fair Meadows property, the trio are summoned back to assist in the investigation - and find themselves in danger of becoming suspects.

Nobody believed them years ago when they tried to tell the adults around them about Miss Fairchild's behaviour. Will anyone believe them now, as they protest their innocence?

One of the best parts of this book for me were the three characters, all troubled but endearing in their own ways. The chemistry between them was delightful. Hepworth has created such distinct and diverse characters in this trio of sisters. As a reader, I began to feel as if I not only knew them, but also cared deeply about them.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns, and even though I guessed one or two elements, the final twist took me by surprise. This is a gripping thriller with plenty of substance and memorable characters. Highly recommended.

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Darling Girls is a gripping psychological thriller that explores the dark secrets hidden beneath a seemingly perfect childhood. Jessica, Norah, and Alicia, three foster sisters, were raised on a picturesque farming estate after being rescued from their own family tragedies. However, their idyllic upbringing is shattered when a body is found beneath their childhood home. As the spotlight falls on them, the sisters must confront their past and unravel the mystery surrounding the murder. With a cast of complex characters and a suspenseful plot, This book keeps readers guessing until the very end. A must-read for fans of psychological suspense.

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Wild meadows is the foster home three girls Jessica, Norah and Alicia find theirselves when they are children. Miss Fairchild is their foster parent although ironically her name doesn’t live up to how it should.

Now adults these three sisters are still very close and when bones are found buried below wild meadows they are pulled back to their home town to help with the investigation.

Each sister is unique in their own way and as secrets are uncovered and truths come to light the sister do all they can to protect each other.

This was a compelling read and I really enjoyed the characters. Thanks to NetGalley , the publisher and author for my digital ARC

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I had an amazing reading experience with this book. I thought I knew where it was going. Instead I was surprised in the best ways right to the end.

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This FAR surpassed my expectations and I finished it within 24 hours! The relationship between the sisters is so beautifully written and the twists and turns in the plot are very clever. I loved this and will be recommending it far and wide!

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Sally Hepworth is one my favourite authors which meant that I was super excited to read this new book. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
The story is hugely unique and very well written.
It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and I’d definitely recommend it.

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First of Sally Hepworth's books for me, but definitely not the last one. The story was gripping, tense and kept me interested all the way through..

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4.75 rounded up for Goodreads and Netgalley!

Whoa, this book is a lot to unpack and quite honestly a lot to process so let's get into it-shall we?
The book opens up in a therapist's office with the narrator being anonymous. That in itself sets the tone for the book. Readers are then introduced to Jessica, Norah and Alicia as they each receive a phone call that will ultimately change their lives forever.
The pacing in this book was spot on, it was completely bingeable and unputdownable. The different POVs (one being anonymous) really added to the suspense and tension. Couple that with the flashbacks, each told from different perspectives, and you have yourself one compelling psychological thriller.
The author tactfully writes about some very sensitive topics in this book such as rape, child abuse, bullying, child neglect, infanticide, drug abuse and botched investigations.
She also does a brilliant job highlighting trauma that foster children can face and how easily they can slip through the cracks, often leading to horrific endings.
It isn't easy to shock an avid thriller reader, yet I was completely stunned at how this story unfolded. It was much darker and even more disturbing than I could ever imagined. My jaw is still on the floor and will be for a while.
That final chapter is one that I will stick with me for a while as it really demonstrates just how twisted and evil the antagonist really is.
As mentioned above, do not go into this just expecting a typical thriller read. It deals with many hard-hitting issues and has so many layers to it. It's a deeply disturbing, yet compelling and completely engrossing story that I binged in one day.

A special thanks to Netgalley, Pan Macmillan and Sally Hepworth for my eARC of this book. All opinions are 100% my own and I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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I have read and enjoyed many of Sally Hepworth's books previously so I was delighted to receive an advance copy of Darling Girls.

I would describe Darling Girls as a psychological mystery. It had some quite dark elements, including mental abuse in foster care, and uncomfortable moments that were hard to read about at times.

I particularly enjoyed the twist at the end since it was entirely unexpected and extremely clever. I definitely think it's a page turner, with great characters and I wouldn't hesitate to give it five starts.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and the publisher for a free advance copy of Darling Girls in exchange for an honest review.

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I loved the writing style. It felt effortless. Genuine. Real. And, the characters personality started to come out of the pages even before we practically knew anything about them. I couldn’t put this down.

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Ooof. I devoured this in one sitting in a matter of hours and I’m still reeling from that ending! What a read! I think I need a lie down!!!!

I decided to read Sally Hepworth’s entire back catalogue, late 2023 having stumbled on her Amazon Short Story | Uncharted Waters | and been obsessed with it. Having read all the earlier books, it’s fair to say that no two Sally Hepworth books are the same, Darling Girls is no exception to the rule. You will find a non-linear timeline told across multiple POVs which is a SH staple and one that I lose myself in when done well. Sally does this ✨so✨well!

It took me a few chapters to get into but once I was there I was in for the duration. Definitely one of my favourite Sally Hepworth reads and a plot that will stay with me for a long while after!

Thank you to Pan Macmillan + NetGalley for the chance to read Darling Girls before it’s released on 25th April 2024 🩵🩵🩵🩵🩵 #DarlingGirls #NetGalley

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I’ve read a few of Sally’s books now and really enjoy the way she allows the story to unfurl. This book was no exception and may be my favourite of hers….so far.

Jessica, Alicia and Norah are grown up sisters, living near each other and having a close bond that exiles all others. This bond stems from their time spent in childhood as foster children at a home called Wild Meadows, under the regime of Miss Fairchild. Miss Fairchild led a reign of terror against these three girls for years, yet worse was to come….

This story beautifully winds together a number of stories over different timelines and led by different narrators. This means that as you piece together the story, you think you’ve hit on the answers….until you realise there’s even more to the story.

I read this book in a single day at half term, as I couldn’t put it down. Already looking forward to Sally’s next book.

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read and review.

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Quite a heavy subject with a heart-wrenching story, but will you believe I actually laughed out loud at Darling Girls as well? Honestly!

Leave it to Sally Hepworth to write a delicate yet disturbing whodunnit, carefully shaping the main characters and their interactions. I especially appreciated the theme about not being lucky or the urge that someone should feel they were lucky simply because things could have been worse. This resonated with me, but on a different level than was the case in this book.

And weirdly, it has nothing to do with revenge – despite what the text on the cover of the book says. Things are way more subtle than that. I don't think that teaser does the book justice...

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book.

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I LOVED this book. I loved all her other books and this one was her best yet. The characters are well developed unique and amiable. I found myself caring for all the central characters. Jessica, Norah and Alicia didn't have an ideal childhood, and they all thought that their lucky day had come when Ms Fairchild came to the rescue and fostered them, However things got worse. When a body appears under the house they grew up in they are forced to return, But who is it? Who can we trust ? A beyond five star read that you won't be able to put down.

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Jessica, Norah and Alicia are foster girls rescued from different family situations and placed with Miss Holly Fairchild at Wild Meadows farm in the 1990s. In the present day, Jessica is orderly to the point of obsession and so a successful home organisation business suits her down to the ground. She’s buried the past good and deep, or is it an illusion? Not so Norah, who is often in trouble, and it has ever been thus, as she doesn’t tolerate fools gladly. Alicia has utilised the past and works in crisis care with kids. When Detective Ashleigh Patel calls them about historic bones found when Wild Meadows farm is demolished, it’s a call they’ve been expecting for twenty five years. Living with Miss Fairchild looks like an idyllic placement for three unlucky girls, who go on to call themselves sisters. However, Miss Fairchild isn’t always fair, she has rules and it’s not wise to cross her. although the three break away, they are never truly free of her, the shadow looming long. Now the three women are back in the spotlight again. As what? Suspects or witnesses? Only time will tell.

This latest novel from the talented Sally Hepworth is a compelling psychological thriller, which pulls on the emotional heartstrings in a multitude of ways. It’s told principally as three narratives by the sisters, in the past and present which works well, because it maintains or even enhances the suspense and tension. They are powerful narratives, they make me feel empathy or anger on their behalf, and they enable the reader to fully understand these three characters, their relationship and whether they have coped or not. They really care for each other which is heartwarming. Their characters feel authentic and their narratives drive the storytelling which becomes increasingly chilling. There are inserts of an interview with a Dr Warren and these are effective and very creepy.

As for Miss Fairchild, I think the less said the better as readers will discover her for themselves and make their own decisions. All I’ll say is this character is powerful and her portrayal is outstanding. The plot is tight, the pacing feels just right for the story being told, it has plenty of twists, it shocks, it sends shivers down the spine, and so, keeps you turning pages. There are some moments of humour, too, often courtesy of Alicia’s childhood cheesy jokes. They contrast quite chillingly with their situation and make you sympathise all the more. It’s a rollercoaster read and as for the twist at the end, oh boy, it’s so good that it blows my mind.

Overall, this is a cracker of a read which is hard to put down. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley, and especially to Pan Macmillan for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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This book went beyond my expectations and I finished it within 2 evenings. The relationship between the sisters is so wonderfully written and the twists and turns in the plot are very clever. I loved this and will be recommending it far and wide. Well done!

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I've not loved a book like this for a long time! This is the fourth Sally Hepworth book I've read now and wow she just gets better and better!

Although you know that there are going to be twists and turns along the way, this one just kept me guessing. The storyline is heart wrenching and you just keep hoping for justice for the girls. The characters are built up fantastically and wow the ending...!!!!

Totally well deserved 5 stars!!

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So many emotions. I was already a big fan of this author and have enjoyed all of her books but this one has topped the list. Sally writes characters so well!

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this eARC of 'Darling Girls' by Sally Hepworth.

Sally Hepworth is back with another gripping tale. 'Darling Girls' follows the story of 3 women who lived in this "Foster home" and survived its tales, only to be transported back years later when a body is discovered. All 3 women have individual experiences with their old residence and their caregiver, Miss Fairchild, and I was immersed reading it. This book touches on abuse in many forms but it also touches on family and how these 3 formed their own family with eachother despite how badly they were treated. I enjoyed reading about the mystery and I was hooked right up until the end.

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Somewhat close to home for me, the trauma of one’s past come to light for these 3 darling girls.

Alicia , Norah and Jessica whose lives were all affected over time by their foster mother. There is important subjects of child abuse here while difficult to read at times it was a real page turner at the same time !

The past will always come back to haunt us no matter our age or stage of life and each of these girls has a different cross to bear from their childhood.

This one will leave a lasting impact.

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4.5 stars - an unputdownable story that centres around three grown women returning to their childhood town when a body is unearthed below the foster home they grew up in.

Told from the points of views from the three sisters, present day and past tense and one pov from an unknown woman in her therapy sessions.

Saying I enjoyed this book feels wrong due to the topics it deals with (mainly child abuse - emotional and some physical ) but the story was really good with some twists and turns - the last chapter blew my mind.

I loved the relationship and growth between the sisters - each sister had their own unique personalities and issues and I had no trouble mixing up their Povs.

The sisters foster mother was truly an unlikeable character who by the end of the book I felt got off a tad too lightly.

The past day and future story came together well and I didn’t guess the outcome until it happened. I loved the last few chapters where the author gave us a few months later then a year later chapters and it left me feeling content.

My first book by the author and it won’t be my last.

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Wow! I am not usually a fan this genre but I finished this book within about a day and a half.

Jessica, Norah and Alicia’ all grew up in the same Foster home as children. Now as adults they get a phone call from the police that human remains were found under the house they lived in.
The story had such a perfect amount of twists and turns and it was fast paced I couldn’t put it down!

It was a really good representation of how the trauma from childhood can really effect you in adulthood. The only criticism I would have would I would have taken out the last chapter as I think it wasn’t essential but that’s personal preference.

All in all I would highly recommend

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This was my first book by this author and it was so good! I liked that the story is told in multiple pov’s. The plot twist was unexpected and I really liked Alice, Norah and Jessica. The story itself was heart wrenching, so please make sure to read the trigger warnings.
Thank you Netgalley and Pan MacMillan for this arc.

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Wild Meadows, nestled in the small town of Port Agatha, used to be the foster home of Jessica, Norah, and Alicia, where they lived under the care of their foster mother, Miss Holly Fairchild. Years after leaving Port Agatha, the girls receive a phone call from the police, informing them about the recent discovery of bones under Wild Meadows. Shocked by the news, they return to their hometown to assist in the investigation.

Darling Girls is a thriller with multiple POVs and a happy ending that had me flipping pages the fastest I have ever read. It's dark and thrilling. I loved the short chapters and the POVs of Norah, Jessica, Alicia, and an anonymous narrator. I loved the constant switching between the past and present timelines. My jaw was literally on the floor from all the little revelations and the last chapter.

I loved the set-up of the plot. It starts with a prologue narrated by the anonymous character talking to a therapist. The initial chapters give a glimpse of the present lives of the girls, and then there are the chapters set in the past that tell you about how their lives were at Wild Meadows. I loved the sisterhood between Jessica, Norah, and Alicia and how it came to be. They might not be sisters in blood, but they were sisters in all other ways. Do you know the best part? The ending: Jessica, Norah, and Alicia find their happily ever after.

This book deals with a lot of dark themes, like sexual and physical assault, depression, drug abuse, and mental trauma. I felt that they were well depicted. I loved the depiction of the struggles faced by foster children and the effects they have on their mental health. Not just the trauma but also the way the system is abused. That was heart-wrenching to read. Most thrillers don’t make me want to cry, but this one did. I loved it!

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